Transcript for 8 women of color running for congress discuss hurdles they’ve faced
Campaigning to win a seat on capitol hill and determined to diversify congress, a historic number of women of color. Here's ABC's Deborah Roberts on their struggles and try triumphs. I'm a granddaughter of sharecrappers. Hispanic Christian conservative. A member of the lgbtq community. I'm a mom. First-generation college student. Daughter of a veteran. Air force sergeant. I've been serving my community for eight years and I'm ready to do it on capitol hill. Reporter: With one goal. I'm running for congress. Reporter: As I look at all of you, it is not lost on me that this is pretty remarkable. A record-setting 298 women are running for congress. And 115 of those are women of color. We've gathered you all, eight of you from both sides of the aisle. Let me ask first, do any of you bristle at the notion that you're running as women, and women of color? It doesn't really bother me. Hoping that a lot of young women look up to me and can identify with the fact that I look just like them, and hopefully one day they want to run for political office as well. A lot of us have a lot to be proud of, to be running in these seats. It's a badge of honor and pride. When you talk about the number of women running for office, especially women of color, I say, it's about time. Our country is changing. And for way too long, young women have looked at what a leader is made of. And it doesn't look like them. Reporter: Of the 115 women of color running for congress, 33 are Republicans. Those we talked to hope to pave the way for others to follow in their footsteps. People look at me, they assume, she must be a Democrat. Why? Because of my name? Seriously? I call myself a purple Republican. 25 years ago, the Republican party stood for something. Today our platform is different. No problem. I'll take some of my Republican principles, some of the democratic principles. What shade of purple are you? Me as a Latina, I just thought that, okay, well, this here, the Republican party, stands for the biblical principles that my mother taught me. When I got out to the world, it was interesting that people were like, well, why are you voting Republican? You're hispanic. And I was like, well, all I know is, I'm voting for the principles that I was taught. Reporter: During this contentious election, during this time with president Donald Trump and so many people seeing him as not open and not tolerant to people of color, has that complicated your campaign or has that somehow propelled you to run? When I first walked into my first Republican central committee meeting, they looked at me like, what are you doing here? And I was just like, well, I'm coming to the meeting. And they were like, well, we just have never seen a black woman Republican before. And then I said, well, here I am. And they said, well, what are you going to do? How are you going to get these black people to vote and come on our side? And I'm thinking, I've been here two seconds and you guys have been here for 40 years. What am I going to do? What have you done? Immediately the weight was put on me, that I should be recruiting most people. Most times I'm combatting this narrative the mainstream media is putting out that the Republican is racist. President trump is not racist, the Republican party is not racist, they welcome me with open arms. How do you make that argument when this president has said a number of things that have led a number of people in this country to feel he is at the very least racially intolerant? Words and actions are two different things. I look at what the president has done, investing in cities that were left neglected by Democrats. One of those cities being Baltimore, in which I'm running for office. I look at the fact that he's tackled criminal justice reform. Not everybody loves his language. I think he likes to get a rise out of people. Look at his actions. Actions speak louder than words. As a brown woman trying to represent a border town, this administration has attacked everything that I stand for. We have a president that has enacted a Muslim ban. He's attacked our trans community. But the fact of the matter is that we do have an administration right now attacking communities of color. In many cases, having my sisters here showing up in a party that I do not support is progress. We are not a monolith. Women aren't money Lites. People of color are not a money I think for us, this is also a conversation about what the parties are doing to meet the needs of our communities. Reporter: How do women lead and legislate differently? Do you think women are better suited to try to look past some of this partisanship? Like AOC and maybe some women on this panel, I am for over-the-counter birth control. That's not something you usually hear from a Republican. It's not something you hear often in congress at all. Sometimes it is because there are so many males that sit in those seats. Reporter: You said like AOC, so you're really reaching across the aisle. I'm hoping to get in congress and work with her on that almost Reporter: This forum is the first time I've had a chance to interact with other women of color around the country who I may be serving with. The fact that we've gotten to know each other like this, off the campaign trail, gives me hope that maybe if we get elected together, we can find ways to work together. There's a level of persistence that we bring that this fight of justice, of inclusion, of equity, it's going to take some time. And I think that's the value that we bring to being elected. Reporter: Do women have to deal with this whole likeability factor when you're running for office? I see all of you nodding your head. I just think that there's higher expectations on women what we're supposed to be wearing in public, how we speak. I have to say, you're a Democrat, I'm a Republican. I 100% agree with what you just said. I think there is -- Absolutely. We found some common ground. Absolutely. Yes. I have a 4-year-old daughter. I get asked all the time, this event's at 8:00 P.M. What are you going to do with your daughter? We have to go above and beyond the normal standard for a male candidate. Reporter: Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously said, enough female justices on the supreme court when there are nine. So when will there be enough members of congress who are women of color? I tell you what I think there will be enough when we stop saying "The first." I'm dying to get there so I can do this, hold the door open, so other people can run through it and I'm not the first anymore. It's sad, in 2020, that we have to say "The first" for anything, like it's a badge of honor. No, it's pretty shameful. Reporter: On the heels of a wildly unpredictable year, no one knows how this election day will turn out. Whether or not you see these faces on capitol hill, all are committed to bringing the American dream within reach of their communities. Right now, there are people with graduate degrees who can't climb their way to the middle class. People are struggling. When I talk to people in the inner city, when I talk to people in the rural parts of my district, the conversation is the same. People need help. It's our job to be able to work across the aisle. Ask with our sisters that are here. And say, okay, there's some things that we absolutely agree on. We have to be strong together as a nation. Reporter: I have to say, it has been encouraging, hearing you all talk, hearing you reach across the miles right now to each other, certainly across the aisles as you're sharing your thoughts and ideas. Good luck to all of you.
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