State Senator M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) described the coming presidential election on Tuesday as an event that over time has transformed from a pivotal moment for women into an historic, deeply critical moment for the country.
“As a moment for women in history to go into the voting booth it was epic in and of itself, but as the campaign has unfolded, it has become a campaign against racism, intolerance, and injustice,” said Ruiz, the veteran chair of the state Senate Education Committee. “To me the most important things on the ballot come Tuesday are equality, love, gender inclusion and respect for what’s right for the country.”
Ruiz decried Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as the worst embodiment she has seen in public life of the country’s most hateful excesses in search of elected office.
“We have seen episodes of disrespect in Congress directed at the president [Barack Obama], but I don’t recall seeing it surface like this,” Ruiz told PolitickerNJ, as she considered the candidacy of Democrat Hillary Clinton, who she supports. “This is a case of systematic hatred. The candidacy of Donald Trump makes me feel terrible, as a woman, as a woman of color, as an urban individual and as a mother. I feel terrible over the thought that the world might see someone with these kinds of visceral attitudes toward woman become president.”
Ruiz plans to take her newborn daughter to the polls on Tuesday so the two together can participate in the historic moment of a woman becoming president.
“What concerns me is his group of people will make it to the polls, and Democrats must remember that this is not a shoo-in,” she said. “We must not take this election for granted. This is about a bigger picture, this is about inclusion.”
Ruiz has known Clinton for many years, and campaigned for her going back to 2007 and 2008.
She respects her, likes her personally, and fails to understand those constant attacks on Clinton’s likeability or lack thereof.
“I’ve never heard those words ascribed to men in politics,” Ruiz said. “And anyway, this is not about likeability. It’s about preparation. Obama said it himself. No one is as prepared to be president as Hillary Clinton, in foreign affairs, healthcare, early childhood education.
“I love her,” the senator added. “She is strong, powerful, and she connects. I met her when I was large in the belly and she spoke about her experience of being pregnant with Chelsea and her experience as a grandmother. I remember years ago, too, a speech she gave at the Mayfair, and it was so compelling. It made me right there at that moment want to run for public office.”