Washington, D. C. IN A FIELD OF more than half a dozen uninspiring candidates, U.S. Rep. Pat Schroeder’s presidential bid could turn into a serious challenge to front-runner Jesse Jackson, and could catch on among Gary Hart’s forsaken youthful followers. She has the kind of strength as a politician that Hart could never muster, with a clear record of support for nuclear disarmament, the environment, and comparable worth and other feminist issues. Because Schroeder hails from Colorado, she couldn’t run in 1984, taking. the back seat to Hart and decorously co-chairing his campaign committee. She is now the senior woman in the House of Representatives and sits on the Armed Services Committee. She chairs the civil service subcommittee, and is a member of the House judiciary subcommittee that oversees the FBI. Schroeder’s presidential campaign is quite similar to Jackson’s. She has no media consultants, no pollsters, and no real staff. She plans to campaign hard this summer in Iowa, where she grew up. Jackson has a strong following among white farmers in Iowa, but Schroeder has jumped into farm politics she supports the Harkin-Gephatdt legislation, which would raise the prices of farm products and should appeal to a wider base of union and liberal voters than Jackson. Schroeder could, however, find stiff competition in the form of Senator Paul Simon, who’s relatively unknown in the east but has a respectable following in the midwestern states. In New Hampshire, Schroeder is expected to tap into the peace and antinuclear movements, which rallied to Hart and Jackson in 1986. But she’ll face tough sledding against Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, whose hopes of winning are based in New Hampshire. Winning the southern states will be a challenge for Schroeder, but she may have a chance at gaining the support that has rallied around Texas James Ridgeway’s column “The Moving Target,” which appears first in the Village Voice, is an occasional feature of the Observer. agriculture commissioner Jim Hightower. What follows is an interview with Schroeder conducted a couple of days after she announced her intention to run for the presidency: Why are yom running? Well, in 1984 I always said if women want to run, they ought to run the way men run. And may your words be tender and juicy, because you often have to eat them. I could always protect myself then by saying that one state as small as ours couldn’t back two candidates. And we already had one out there. But when Hart got out, people started calling. I thought it was kind of a little flurry and it would pass. But it didn’t pass, and people kept hammering at me. What will be the main issues of your campaign? We’re at a crossroads in history. The next president will be sworn in on the threshold of the 21st century. The problems unleashed during the 20th century are piling up. The arms race has crossed the planet into space. There is a record federal deficit, environmental neglect. I see five major policy gaps in America today between rhetoric and reality. This is where we need a rendezvous with reality. First, we need to share our defense with our allies in a more equitable manner. American taxpayers spend $150 billion to $200 billion a year to protect our allies in Europe and Japan and elsewhere. That’s ironically about the same amount their imports exceed our exports. Second, we need a family policy that addresses the reality of today’s working families. It takes two incomes to achieve the family income of one person working just three years ago. We need to establish a policy to protect the family against economic hardship, including flextime, the updating of employment practices providing for part-time employment with benefits, parental leave for mothers and fathers who have or adopt children. We need to increase tax deductions for children. People should be paid what they are worth. We need to restructure our nation’s schools to ensure America a steady supply of high-caliber teachers. The trade competition will be won or lost in our schools. The question we have to ask is, why consumers anywhere in the world should be willing to pay our workers ten times as much as other places in the world market. They will do so only if our workers know more and can do more than their low-cost competitors. If we are going to fight the trade balance we will have to set and achieve far higher standards in our schools than we have ever set before. We have to reverse the arms race. Nuclear weapons must not proliferate on this planet. The superpowers must contain and cut back their arsenals. Reverse the arms race. The main thing is a nuclear test ban. We have to reestablish our commitment to preserving the environment. We need action on acid rain, on ozone depletion, on water pollution, and on toxic wastes. We once led the way in attacking these problems. Our scientists spoke and others listened. Now our leaders speak and the world laughs. Are you the women’s candidate? Well, I think that’s how people try to categorize me.. My response to that is, I don’t expect one woman to vote for me because I am a woman. And I don’t expect one man to vote against me because I am a woman. I think this country is past that. If the Philippines and England and India and all these other countries can get past it, I think we can too. How do you deal with having been politically linked with Gary Hart? We’re very different people. I graduated from high school in Des Moines, Iowa, was married in Des Moines, Iowa, my mother was a schoolteacher in Des Moines, Iowa. How are you going to handle the sex question? I am not running to be earth angel. I worry about how I am going to handle it, because as a woman you come off sounding real self-righteous in this. I don’t like that tone either. And I’m not sure that women are purer than men. I really don’t know how I deal with that yet. As I say to people, I don’t know if we’re pure, but I know we don’t have the opportunities. Young males are not attracted to women in power. It’s not like I have lifeguards hanging around here going, pant, pant, pant. It’s just not there. And I don’t know any women in power that find that. Pat Schroeder on the Issues By James Ridgeway THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13
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