PHILADELPHIA—U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., reflected on her experience this week at the Democratic National Convention, where the party officially nominated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the country’s first female presidential nominee.
During the roll-call vote Tuesday, Baldwin was selected to read off the Wisconsin delegation’s votes, of which the majority went to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who won the state’s April primary.
“I didn’t think I would have as much emotion as I did during the vote,” Baldwin said in an interview with The Daily Cardinal. “
Clinton is slated to accept the nomination in a Thursday night speech to the delegates.
For Baldwin, being a historic first is familiar, as she is the first female senator from Wisconsin and the first openly gay senator to serve in the chamber.
“I started my career in public service in the 1980s, and there were very few women in the Senate or any legislative bodies or high points in government,” Baldwin said. “When Geraldine Ferraro became the first female vice presidential candidate, I was able to remember that I could do anything. I understand the empowering impact that this has.”
Wisconsin Democrats had debated earlier in the current election cycle whether racial divides had grown under President Barack Obama, but Baldwin praised Clinton’s take on a divided America.
“It hasn’t gotten worse, but we are talking about it [racial issues] more, and engaging in what’s happening instead of ignoring what’s happening,” Baldwin said. “I think that’s an important point to make going forward.”
The road to party unity has been a question mark for Wisconsin Democrats, as many supported Sanders even after the votes were cast and the nominee was selected. However, Baldwin, who endorsed Clinton, said state Democrats are more focused on the issues rather than the candidates.
“It wasn’t that I disliked one and loved the other; I loved both,” she said. “I love the issues that they are engaged in and that’s why I’m in public service … this is the culmination of all the work we’ve done to elect leaders who will push tirelessly on these issues.”
Baldwin also touched on college affordability, as the party platform now includes Sanders’ call for free tuition at public universities.
“Nobody should have to enter their careers with 30 or 40,000 in debt with interest rates that are way above what a student can pay back,” Baldwin said. “We do have a student debt crisis, and there is a lot to be confronted.”