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Emily's List president: Me Too movement helps fuel women candidates but also creates challenges

CNBC's John Harwood spoke with Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily's List, about the importance of the Me Too movement in politics – and the challenges it presents. Here is an edited excerpt of their conversation.

Harwood: How much do you see Me Too as part of this moment?

Schriock: I think it is a big part. This whole moment started November of 2016, that night where Hillary lost and he won. And then those women marched. Millions of women marched. Empowerment and community came together in that march.

Me Too comes out of that that recognition that I can speak my truth and not get shamed for it 'cause they're gonna be with me. And that's exactly what happened here. It is the beginning of a sea change.

Harwood: You got Al Franken elected to the Senate in 2008. Do you think that the Me Too movement went too far in his case? And do you worry about it going too far in other cases?

Schriock: This is a time of beginning a cultural change. Women feel that they're able to say what happened to them. And for decades, if not for centuries, they weren't allowed to do that — or if they did, they were ashamed to do it. So I think we have to continue hearing, and listening, and ensuring that women are taken seriously.

Harwood: Did Franken get a raw deal?

Schriock: I think he got caught up in a moment with some women who stood up and had experiences, real experiences.

Sen. Al Franken, (D-MN)
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Sen. Al Franken, (D-MN)

Harwood: Did you think it was unfair?

Schriock: I mean, it's hard because this is the other thing I think for so many of us in this moment: We are going to have friends who maybe didn't do everything exactly right, but they're still friends. And we're going to have to work with that as well.

Harwood: There are some people who blame, say, Sen. [Kirsten] Gillibrand and others, who think that they threw him overboard in ways that were not fair.

Schriock: The moment was so difficult for everybody involved, for those women senators who were in the center of it all. The pressure that was on them to make the decision. And I don't know folks really understand that. It wasn't on their male counterparts. And it was from their younger staff, their voters, the press, were on top of them. You also had the Alabama Senate race. There was a lot of things going on at that moment. And Sen. Franken made his decision in the thoughts of he had to take care of the people in Minnesota. And when he felt like he wasn't going to be able to do his job for the people of Minnesota, he resigned.

Harwood: Was it disappointing to you how it went down?

Schriock: It was, yeah. It was hard. It was really hard. But do we expect any of these to be not hard? It's a difficult time.

Speakeasy podcast: Listen to John Harwood's discussion with Stephanie Schriock here