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Women fast becoming new face of American politics

In recent years, we have seen the number of women achieving college degrees and college graduate degrees increasing. That is particularly true in law schools. This means more women are becoming candidates for high public office, as exemplified by Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand as New York’s newest U.S. senator and former Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.

Regarding Gillibrand, it is interesting that after she was sworn in, the first place she chose to visit was Queens. Out of the 62 counties in the state, it shows the importance of Queens from a political standpoint.

Comparing Gillibrand and Palin, both statewide public officials come from small−town, rural environments. Both are proficient in the use of firearms and they and their families have an avid interest in hunting. In the past, they have both been supported by the National Rifle Association.

Politically, both Gillibrand and Palin have defeated male candidates who were incumbents. Gillibrand did this in 2006 by winning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from a rural district in eastern New York state that somewhat surrounds Albany but is not part of her district. Palin defeated an incumbent Democratic governor in 2006 after defeating a former governor in a Republican primary election that year. In all these races, the winning campaigns were considered upset victories.

The question has arisen as to how these high−ranking public officials can attend to their duties in office and handle their familial responsibilities, since both Gillibrand and Palin have children.

But be that as it may, both have been referred to as possible future national candidates for president or vice president. These possibilities seem far in the future, since Palin faces a re−election campaign for her governorship next year and Gillibrand faces a special election next year for the U.S. Senate and a regularly scheduled election for the same office in 2012.

In terms of the presidents, when we look at the political campaign of Bill Clinton in 1992 and Barack Obama this past year, certain analogies arise. Both, in their respective races, focused on the economy, with social issues and foreign policy receiving less emphasis. Both Clinton and Obama were relative newcomers to national politics and running against two well−known leaders who had been on the national scene for a long time: George H.W. Bush and U.S. Sen. John McCain (R−Ariz.).

Although Clinton and Obama had no military background prior to becoming commander in chief of the armed forces, they managed to defeat two national war heroes. Bush had fought in World War II and McCain in Vietnam. In fact, Bush and McCain were Navy fighter pilots whose planes were shot down in combat. In Bush’s case, he was shot down over the Pacific Ocean and rescued by a U.S. warship. McCain was not so fortunate, being shot down by the enemy, captured and held as a prisoner of war for five years.

Both Clinton and Obama were in their 40s when they won their campaigns against Bush (late 60s) and McCain (early 70s). Both Clinton and Obama were very articulate and able to express their viewpoints effectively. In addition, they had excellent campaign staffs and well−organized state and local campaign organizations.

State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo recently addressed a state Conservative Party conference. It seems he was well−received. We are a long way from the New York governor’s race next year, but interest is beginning to formulate as to which political party will be supporting which candidate.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, if he runs for governor next year, to have a chance at winning will need at least the support of both the Republican and Conservative parties. It is a remote possibility, but possible the Conservative Party might consider Cuomo as a candidate for governor next year.

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