- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun won the backing yesterday of two major feminist groups for her presidential candidacy, and the Illinois Democrat said their support “guarantees” the formal launch of her campaign next month.

The National Organization for Women’s Political Action Committee (NOW/PAC) and the National Women’s Political Caucus made the unusual early endorsement as they cited Mrs. Braun for her long-standing support for their issues.

Though the feminist leaders offered no objections to the other eight Democratic candidates, they made no apologies for making the only woman, who is also a decided long-shot, their favorite.

“We are particularly pleased that out of a field of strong progressive candidates, the strongest feminist candidate turns out of be a woman,” said Kim Gandy, president of NOW.

She said Mrs. Moseley Braun has been an ally going back three decades to the failed attempt to win ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Asked later about the message sent by the endorsement, Miss Gandy said, “Every time a woman runs for office at a higher level, it opens the door for other women.”

In 1972, NOW endorsed Rep. Shirley Chisholm, a New York Democrat who ran a symbolic campaign for the presidency. NOW’s only other primary endorsement was for Vice President Walter Mondale in the 1984 elections.

Mrs. Moseley Braun, who served one term as U.S. senator from Illinois and, after her defeat for re-election, as ambassador to New Zealand, has been running a low-profile campaign that has had difficulty attracting donors. At end of June the campaign had just $22,000 in the bank.

Even so, her backers note that she has ranked higher than some better-financed competitors in some public-opinion polls, and is ahead in her home state.

The endorsements are no guarantee of a cash influx, since PACs can donate no more than $5,000.

Mrs. Moseley Braun, speaking at the National Press Club, credited the “powerful encouragement” from the feminist groups for her decision to announce her candidacy officially on Sept. 22.

“Nothing was more significant than having the support of the National Organization for Women and the National Women’s Political Caucus,” said Mrs. Moseley Braun, the only woman in the race. “And I hope and I know, I feel confident, that other women’s organizations will come on board based on the leadership of these two very important, significant national grass-roots organizations.”

NOW says it has about 500,000 members across the country, while the National Women’s Political Caucus has about 25,000 members and supporters. The caucus only endorses pro-choice women candidates, and leaders said they were excited to finally have a presidential candidate they could endorse.

“Together we are going to take the ‘men only’ sign off the White House door,” she said.

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