On day two of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, it was fitting that Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) would be the one to officially nominate Hillary Clinton as the first woman presidential candidate of a major American political party.
"So on behalf of all the women who have broken down barriers for others, and with eyes toward the barriers ahead, I proudly place Hillary Clinton’s name in nomination to be the next president," Mikulski said.
As Mikulski pointed out during her nomination speech, she "broke a barrier" when she became the first Democratic woman elected to the Senate in her own right in 1986 — meaning that she wasn’t appointed and didn’t succeed a husband who previously held the seat. She was also the first woman to chair the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.
Mikulski is the longest-serving woman in Congress — since 1977, when she started off in the House of Representatives — and she’s retiring this year. It felt like she was passing the torch to her friend Hillary Clinton in hopes that Clinton will pull off another historic "first" for women in America.
"Our Founding Fathers gave us a great start, but it was the Founding Mothers who said, ‘Do not forget the ladies, for we will foment our own revolution,’" Mikulski said.
For decades, Mikulski has served as a mentor to other women in Congress, and was known as the "dean of the Senate women." She hosted regular dinners for her women colleagues and bipartisan coffee meetups for new women members.
Clinton has said she plans to govern in a similar way if she is elected in November. In contrast with the more typically masculine tendency of other presidents to do business over sports like golf or basketball, Clinton has said she wants to focus on building relationships and discussing issues over drinks, especially with her political rivals. It fits with her "listening" leadership style, and with her recent willingness to embrace her gender as a focus and an asset on the campaign trail.