The 2020 race has only just begun, but already it’s looking like a vastly different—and better—kind of playing field. For the first time in our nation's history, there is not just one, or even two, or a few, but a record-smashing, can you believe it six women running for president. At press time in mid-February, there were officially more women seeking the Democratic nomination than men: Four senators and one representative as well as spiritual leader Marianne Williamson. Marie Claire went to the Capitol to capture the historic moment by interviewing and photographing the female politicians vying to be leader of the free world. (We arrived right after the government shutdown ended—they had plenty to say about that.)

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We asked these presidential hopefuls about their plans and policies, but what surprised us the most was when we asked them what questions they are asked that a man running for the highest office would never face. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is tired of the doubters who wonder whether a woman could win. “I’ve never heard anyone ask, ‘Can a man win?’” she says. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), an Iraq War veteran, gets: “Are you tough enough? Can you handle the heat?” Please. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is asked how she manages to campaign and parent at the same time. “I have one daughter, and I’ve been asked that about a hundred times,” she says. “All parents balance things, but dads don’t always get asked that.” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is grilled, too, about how she balances family and work. “The truth is,” she says, “women have been working since the beginning of time, and we do it well. We can balance our family needs and the work we need to do.” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) says she likes to turn the tables when people only ask her about so-called women’s issues: “My response is usually ‘I am so glad you would like to talk about women’s issues, so let’s talk about the economy.’”

Talk they will; the presidential primary debates begin in June. And when these women—a veteran, a former college professor, two ex-prosecutors, and several mothers—take the stage, we’ll be looking at the most representative and diverse candidate pool in history, one that reflects America’s population more accurately than ever before. It’s momentous, it’s exhilarating, and it’s about time. —Kayla Webley Adler


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On what we need to do to move forward as a country:

“People have to look at each other and find the heart of America again.… I think what we need to remember is that there's so much more that unites us than tears us apart. And once we start thinking like that, then we can take on these big challenges that are in front of us, because, as a nation, we should be governing from opportunity right now, and not just chaos.”

On the question she gets asked that a male candidate would never be asked:

“People say things like, ‘Well, do you think you could really be in charge?’ ‘Do you think you could really win?’ I was asked that when I ran for the Senate in the year 2006. I was repeatedly asked, ‘Can a woman win?’ because two women before me hadn't won and they were very qualified for the job. But still, I would say to them, ‘You know, a woman got elected to the Senate from the state of Texas, so I think we can pull this off.’”

On the question she wishes she got asked more:

“‘What do you think we can do to move forward as a country? What are some ideas that can bring people together?’ Because so many of the questions you get asked are about dividing people, instead of things that can bring us to common ground, which is the only way we get to higher ground.”

On why more women should run for office:

“We need more women so we reflect the country that we are, but we also need more women because my experience has been they get results. Women in the Senate work better across the aisle. We introduce more bills together, we've been able to get more things passed, so my answer when people say ‘Hey, there's too much gridlock,’ my answer is: Elect more women.”


On her number-one issue:

“My number-one issue is how we make this country work, not just for this really little slice at the top, but how we make it work for everyone. Because I really believe that chances, that opportunities, shouldn't all just go to the children of those folks. It ought to go to all our kids.”

On her advice to young women:

“When I was running for Senate the first time, back in 2012, I would meet little girls and I always got down on their level and I would say, ‘My name is Elizabeth and I'm running for the Senate because that's what girls do.’ And then, we would make pinky promises to remember that. Now won't that be fun for president?”

On the question she wishes she got asked more:

“I wish I were asked about how we're going to make the big changes we need to make. Not the nibbles around the edge, not the here's a piece or here's a piece. But what's it gonna take to make this country really work? Not just for the rich and the powerful, what it's gonna take to make it work for everyone else.”


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On her advice to young women:

“I want all young women out there to know that you should never listen if someone tells you that you are too young, or that you need to stand aside and wait your turn. I've been told this throughout my life and I have known, as you should, that the most important qualification is what's in your heart, and how you desire to be of service and have a positive impact on those around you.”

On why she's running for president:

“I'm running for president because our country is being torn apart and I know that what we need now more than ever is aloha. Aloha is respect, it's compassion, it's love for others regardless of race, gender, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion. Aloha is what can bring us together, because when we stand united there is no challenge we cannot overcome.”

On her number-one issue:

“My number-one issue is ending counterproductive regime change wars, ending the new Cold War that we're facing, and making it so that we do not end up in a nuclear war that completely destroys our country and our future. We need to focus on making sure that we provide peace and prosperity for all people in this country.”

On the question she wishes she got asked more:

“What motivates me. I've served for 15 years in the Army National Guard, deployed twice to the Middle East, and continue to serve as a Major. I've seen firsthand the cost of war. I know who pays the price. This is why I fight so hard for peace, security, and freedom.”


On her number-one issue:

“My number-one issue is making America work for working families. In particular, their needs in terms of economic support and equal access to opportunity. One of my signature initiatives is the Lift Act, which would give families making less than $100,000 a year a $6,000 tax credit that they can receive at up to $500 a month, because in America today, the majority of families are a $400 emergency away from complete catastrophe. And that's not how it should be.”

On her advice to young women:

“What I want young women and girls to know is: You are powerful and your voice matters. You're going to walk into many rooms in your life and career where you may be the only one who looks like you or who has had the experiences you've had. But you remember that when you are in those rooms, you are not alone. We are all in that room with you applauding you on. Cheering your voice. And just so proud of you. So you use that voice and be strong.”

On why more women should run for office:

“More women should run for office, and more women are running for office, and this is so exciting. We have broken previous records—[we now have] more than 100 women in the United States Congress. And more women should run because women are leaders in their families, in their communities, in their neighborhoods, and in society. So we want to see those numbers reflected in the United States Congress, and that means not only that women should run, but that folks should support and encourage women to run for office. Because when we have an equal number of representatives in Congress—equal number meaning representative of who the population is as a whole—we will be better and stronger.”


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On her advice to young women:

“I want all young women and girls to know that their voice matters, that their view of the world may well be different, and if they aren't being heard, then they can't change the things that are necessary in their communities and in our country. So, be heard. Your voice truly matters.”

On her number-one issue:

“My number-one issue is restoring this government to the hands of the people. If you are unwilling to have a direct democracy, unwilling to restore what's been lost in terms of giving that power back to the people, you will never be able to do the things that need to be done. You need an open government, you need to get money out of politics, you need to change the fact that the powerful interests control everything. And the way to do it is get money out of politics and give that power right back into the hands of Americans.”

On why more women should run for office:

“More women should run for office because our life experiences are different. We may see problems in our communities, in our states, in our country, that perhaps those here in Washington don't see. We all know Washington's broken, and if you want to fix it, you need to change the players list. You need to change who has a seat at the table, who's being heard, and who's able to work on solving our country's greatest problems.”


Photographs By Heather Hazzan. Hair and Makeup by Carrie LaMarca and Patti Nelson at The Artist Agency; On-set Production by Amelia Fogarty and Justin Gellerson; Special Thanks: Jeff Kent. Visual design by Morgan McMullen.