Former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun, the first black woman elected to the U.S. Senate, said Wednesday that in times of trouble, a woman president could move the nation "toward peace, prosperity and progress."

Moseley-Braun, who has already made campaign appearances in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, filed papers establishing a presidential exploratory cajor concern and "we have no right" to force our children to pay for tax rebates today.

The 55-year-old Moseley-Braun, the only woman in the presidential race, said, "in these difficult times for America, I believe woman have a contribution to make to move our country toward peace, prosperity and progress."

Moseley-Braun is the second black woman to seek the presidency. Former New York Rep. Shirley Chisholm ran for the Democratic nomination in 1972.

On Tuesday, in a speech at the University of Chicago Law school, Moseley-Braun said it was time to "take the 'men only' sign" off the White House.

Moseley-Braun served one term in the Senate, losing her bid for re-election in 1998. Early in her term in the Senate, she drew national attention after taking on Jesse Helms, R-N.C., when he sought to renew a design patent for the United Daughters of the Confederacy's emblem that included the Confederate flag.

But she was criticized for splitting an inheritance from her mother that should have gone to reimburse Medicaid; for allegations that her campaign manager and then-fiance Kgosie Matthews sexually harassed workers; for a monthlong, postelection trip to Africa with Matthews; and accusations that campaign funds were used for jewelry and fancy clothes.

While the accusations dogged her throughout her term, Moseley-Braun said she was eventually "vindicated on every possible front."

During the Clinton administration, she was ambassador to New Zealand.

Another Democrat, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, also filed papers Wednesday to form a presidential exploratory committee. He had tried Tuesday, but couldn't because heavy snow had closed government offices in Washington.