Wendy Long mocks Gillibrand’s ‘war on women’ theme, says she’s not running for ‘hottest senator’

Wendy Long. (Reid Pillifant)
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Wendy Long coasted to the New York State Conservative Party's U.S. Senate nomination today, with the strong backing of the state chairman Mike Long, who's made no secret of the fact that he thinks running a tough woman against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand gives his side the best chance in an uphill battle.

And, in accepting the nomination before a modest crowd in a tenth floor ballroom of the New York Athletic Club, Wendy Long sounded ready to combat the Democrats'—and particularly Gillibrand's—narrative about a Republican "war on women."

"You may have heard that the 2012 election cycle is going to be about a war on women," she said. "Well I'm here to say there is no war on women in the New York Conservative Party. Here they respect us for our ideas and our heart, and our commitment to America and to New York.

"Senator Gillibrand might want to ponder that next time Harry Reid calls her the 'hottest U.S. Senator.' So much for liberals respecting women for their minds."

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"She's not hot!" proclaimed a man's voice in the audience, to agreement from the mostly male crowd. Long continued.

"I'm not running for the 'hottest senator,' thank goodness," she said. "I have a few principles and a few ideas. As a candidate, I don't have to look far for the principles I advocate, because they're all in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution."

Earlier in the speech, Long had said that Gillibrand "boasts of her influence in the Senate, and she's even thinking about running for the White House," to loud groans of, "Oh, come on!"  

After the speech, I asked her if she felt she was better suited to undercut the "war on women" narrative than her two male opponents in the Republican primary, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos and Representative Bob Turner. 

"You know, to the extent that our demographic characteristics are taken off the table and the issues are focused more on principles, positions, ideas, votes, that's a good thing," she said. "So, I think that I can present the sharpest contrast with Kirsten Gillibrand on those matters."

Later, in explaining how Wendy Long had captured the hearts of his Conservative chairmen, Mike Long (no relation) said part of it was the gender dynamic.

"Most people really understand clearly that if you're going to do battle with Kirsten Gillibrand, you're much stronger doing battle with an articulate female candidate that can handle herself, debate Senator Gillibrand, and offer a very strong alternative in philosophical beliefs," he said. "And there's no question, you heard it, you were here, there is clearly a philosophical break between Gillibrand and Wendy Long. There's no fuzziness here."