Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says Trump is drawing more women to run for office out of "protest"

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says there's a direct line between President Trump's election and the surging number of women running for office in 2018.

"I think, is this overwhelmingly — the overwhelming desire of women to be heard, to be counted and to fight back against what he stands for and what he said. He demeans women. He devalues women. He's constantly trying to harm our families and our communities," said Gillibrand. 

Gillibrand, along with Virginia Democratic congressional candidate Jennifer Wexton, sat down with CBS' "Face the Nation" moderator Margaret Brennan to discuss the growing trend ahead of the midterm elections. Asked if the rise was due out of demographics, Gillibrand said it was largely due out of protest.

"Protest, anger, frustration and determination to protect their families," she explained.  Gillibrand added, "The fact that Donald Trump has been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual assault and sexual harassment alone has infuriated women enough to do something that they might otherwise have not done. Taking the risk to actually run for office."

Wexton agreed, saying, "I think a lot of women woke up after the November election in 2016 and realized that democracy is a lot more fragile than any of us wanted to admit. And that the only way we were going to change things would be to get off the sidelines and run ourselves."

Wexton, running in district that's been held by Republicans since the 1980's, attributes her own progress in the polls to her background as a mom. 

"You know, I'm — I'm a mom. I'm a former prosecutor from the heart of the district, in Loudoun County. And I'm a state senator who, during my tenure in the — in the Senate has passed over 40 bills," she said. 

Wexton said that her role as mother also allows her to bring "great things to the table" as a politician. 

"As women we are able to check our egos at the door, and work together to get things done and deliver results. As moms, we are able to prioritize and multitask all the many things that help us as legislators. And we're able to empathize and understand the issues that our constituents are facing." 

But Wexton, who is running to replace another woman, Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock, in Virginia's 10th District, also suggests it's not just about gender, calling her opponent a "woman who is not voting in a way that helps other women. It's time to replace her."

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital