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|First Female President?
Carol Moseley Braun, best known as a former U.S. Senator from Illinois, brings a woman's perspective and a broad range of experience to her campaign for president. She has served in government at the local, state, national, and international levels.
In 1992 Moseley Braun defeated two-term incumbent Sen. Alan Dixon in the Democratic primary and won the general election with 53% of the vote over Republican Richard Williamson, becoming the first female Senator from Illinois, the first female African-American Senator and the first African-American Democratic Senator. In her one term in the U.S. Senate, from 1992 to 1998, Moseley Braun served on the Finance, Banking and Judiciary Committees. Among her legislative accomplishments she highlights in particular her work addressing the problem of crumbling schools, a continuation of her leadership on education issues as a State Representative. From 1999 to 2001 Moseley Braun was the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand. After returning from that post, she started a business consultancy in Chicago and taught law and political science. On January 17, 2003 Moseley Braun announced that she would not seek to regain her seat in the U.S. Senate and on February 19 she filed papers establishing a presidential exploratory committee. She has made "renewed peace, prosperity and progress for all Americans" the theme of her campaign.
Moseley Braun served as assistant U.S. Attorney in Chicago for four years in the mid-1970s, and as a State Representative in the Illinois General Assembly from 1978 to 1987, rising to become assistant majority leader. She then served a term as Recorder of Deeds for Cook County.
Some observers have suggested that Moseley Braun's candidacy is an effort to undercut the prospects of the Democrats' "wild card" candidate Rev. Al Sharpton. Others have said that she is seeking to raise her profile. The public perception of Moseley Braun has also been tainted by charges that she misused campaign funds and that she was cosy with Nigerian dictator Sami Abacha. Moseley Braun forcefully rejects these charges; in a March 22, 2003 letter to the Washington Post, she stated that "All [accusations of misuse of funds] were fully investigated by the Federal Election Commission and were dismissed." Further, she wrote, "The Nigerian accusations were nothing more than racist shorthand."
Just before announcing her campaign in February 2003, Moseley Braun
made appearances in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina sponsored by
American Women Presidents, a political action committee. Her appearance
in Iowa, in the midst of a major snowstorm, drew exactly one interested
citizen, in addition to the event organizers and reporters on hand.
That humble start, modest fundraising (just $217,108.85 in the first two
quarters), and a staff shakeup did not deter Moseley Braun. She continued
a low key campaign over the next months, largely focusing on major multi-candidate
forums. On August 26 she received the endorsements of NOW/PAC and
the National Women's Political Caucus which determined her to formally
declare her candidacy. The editors of the The New York Times
were not impressed, weighing in with a scathing editorial "NOW's Woman
Problem" (September 14) which stated that NOW's endorsement "trivialized
the important role women will play in the coming election," termed
NOW and NWPC as "silly," and described Moseley Braun's campaign as a "vanity
affair." Undaunted, Braun formally declared on September 22 in events
in Washington, DC, Columbia, SC, and Chicago, IL.
Readings and Resources
Darryl Fears. "On a Mission in a Second Political Act." Washington Post. July 13, 2003. [Seventh in a series].
Bob Edwards. "The Candidates: Carol Moseley Braun." NPR Morning Edition interview. May 6, 2003.>>
Jodi Wilgoren. "Leaping Past Triumphs and Debacles." New York Times. March 14, 2003. [Eighth in a series].
Copyright © 2003, 2004
Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action