Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison laughs at the suggestion her visit to Iowa is the first step in her 2016 presidential campaign.
“Oh no, I’m not here to do that, oh my gosh,” the Texas Republican said before headlining a “Women for Mitt” rally in Cedar Rapids Thursday and a get-out-the-vote rally.
She did think about it at one time. In June 2011, Hutchison, 69, told “Hardball” host Chris Matthews she considered running, but not this year because of having two 10-year-old children.
Also, the political environment has changed.
“Back when I was really thinking about it, it was kind of the next person up that had the entitlement to be the nominee,” she said.
Now, she sees several Republican women earning their stripes as governors or members of Congress.
“As they gain experience, I think we will have women who have the same experience level to be judged on their ability to lead,” Hutchison said.
She’s ready for a female president, Hutchison said, “but it has to be someone who we can see as the leader of the free world.”
She declined to name any of those Republican women she sees as potential presidents.
“I’m not picking sides at this point, but trying to see who evolves,” Hutchison said.
She has picked sides in this election, joining the campaign for Mitt Romney, who, she said, offers a better plan for turning around the economy. That’s the central issue of the campaign, especially for women.
“Where I come from, women are focused on … President Obama’s record on the economy,” Hutchison said. They’re finding it harder to get a job and seeing their children graduate from college without job prospects.
“Women know what the main issue of this campaign is – President Obama’s record, it is the debt he has created, his constant talk of new taxes and more spending. Women are not stupid. We see that if we keep going the way we have been the last 3.5 years, we’re going to get the same results and it’s not good.”
However, the Obama campaign warned that Romney would “take us back to the failed policies of the past.”
“Today, women across the state of Iowa cast the first ballots in the state for President Obama because he has been a staunch advocate for Iowa women, working to protect and advance policies that promote fairness, equal opportunity, and a level playing field,” said spokeswoman Erin Seidler.
Obama has worked to ensure equal pay for an equal day’s work, expand access to quality, affordable health care and education, and create jobs for 30 straight months, she said.
“The president’s agenda showcases his belief that women’s issues are America’s issues,” Seidler added.