The former Illinois senator and ambassador to New Zealand said she will decide whether to stay in the race in September, but at this point she intends to pursue the nomination with a campaign strategy that may bypass New Hampshire, the first primary state.
"Too much goes into the electoral process for it just to be a lark," she said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It is a serious campaign. Theoretically, it can be done."
Braun is an underdog in the nine-way race for the Democratic nomination, raising less money - $72,450 in the first quarter - and getting a later start than most of her opponents. She is working to rebuild her connections after five years out of politics.
She said she thinks she can be competitive in Iowa, which holds the first nominating contest, and get her first primary win in Michigan. She said it will be more difficult for her to compete in New Hampshire because it's so far from her home town of Chicago. She also hopes to do well in Virginia, South Carolina and western states such as Arizona, which she notes has elected several women to statewide office.
Braun says that after three months in the primary race, she's gained some insight into why more women don't run for president.
"There are areas in which women do not enjoy natural authority. We enjoy natural authority in regards to nurturing kinds of concerns," she said, citing domestic affairs and policy. "But when it comes to issues like the military and national security, even higher levels of economic thought, not to mention international affairs, women don't start off with natural authority."
She said exceptions are national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee and the Veterans Affairs panel. When asked whether a man would get in trouble for saying women don't have natural authority in those areas, she said yes, then clarified her position.
"Didn't I say presumed?" she asked. "What I meant to say is women are not presumed to do those things."
Braun said she hopes to challenge any such presumption by traveling the country and talking about her view of America's role in the world. She said the Bush administration's action against Iraq was an "unfocused misadventure" that puts the United States on a slippery slope that could lead to further war against regimes in Iran and Pakistan.
"We're using this sledgehammer," she said. "We're bullying our way around the world but not to much effect in terms of getting justice for 9-11."
She said she agrees with one of her rivals for the Democratic nomination, Florida Sen. Bob Graham, when he says that the war with Iraq distracted the U.S. military from pursuing Osama Bin Laden and allowed al Qaeda to regroup. She said she would approach the threat of terrorism by trying to tackle problems such as poverty and a lack of education that cause people to become terrorists.
"I think the Bush administration was fast and loose with the facts," she said. "They were hellbent ... to go blow up somebody instead of taking a rational approach."
By Nedra Pickler