It’s a strategy neither Senator Elizabeth Warren nor Senator Kamala Harris have embraced in their presidential platforms. During her campaign rollout last month, Ms. Harris focused heavily on her connections with the black community and her career as a prosecutor. Ms. Warren has centered her argument around class, rather than gender, making her personal story of economic struggle the centerpiece of her pitch to voters.
“Ultimately, that’s why I decided to run,’’ Ms. Gillibrand said. “Because I was concerned maybe the rest of the team doesn’t focus on these issues. Maybe the rest of the team doesn’t get where they need to go.’’
And while Ms. Gillibrand denounced questions of “likability” as sexist, Ms. Warren explicitly demurred from such labels in an interview last month.
Ms. Gillibrand’s bluntness worries some Democrats in early voting states, who fear a repeat of the kind of sexism they believe sank Mrs. Clinton’s campaign in 2016.
Linda Smoley, who hosted Mrs. Clinton at her Sioux City, Iowa, home in 2015 and attended Ms. Gillibrand’s first house party in Iowa in January, said she was so distressed after Mr. Trump was elected that she got anti-depressants from her doctor and then accidentally drove her car into her house.
Ms. Gillibrand had reached out moments earlier about appearing at Ms. Smoley’s local women’s group, Siouxland Progressive Women. But after the trauma of 2016, Ms. Smoley at first voiced reservations about selecting another female nominee.
“My only concern is that she is a woman,” Ms. Smoley said, “and I fear that in this misogynistic society in which we live, I think it will be hard for a woman because there are so many middle-aged and older white men who don’t want to cede power.”
But moments later, she was reconsidering, gingerly.
“But maybe we have turned,’’ she said. “Maybe this time, if she can convince those white women Trump voters how we as Democrats could make lives better, maybe she could get some of that vote that Hillary lost.”