Will Democrats' 'war on women' accusations against Republicans backfire?

Kirsten Powers weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," October 31, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MEGYN KELLY, HOST: And now to a new controversy on the campaign trail where NBC's Chuck Todd asked Senator Mary Landrieu about her re-election, the president and his policies and watch her answer.


SEN. MARY LANDRIEU, D-LA.: I'm being very, very honest with you in the South is not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans, it's been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader. It's not always been a good place for women to be able to present ourselves. It's more of the conservative place.

So, we have to work a little bit harder on that. But you know, the people trust me, I believe, really, they do, to trust me to do the right thing for the state.


KELLY: Oh, boy. Kirsten Powers is a Fox News political analyst and USA Today columnist, she joins me now. Your reaction to that.

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: It's astonishing. I really don't know why she would say something like that. She's such a good politician. She's so smart. She really has stayed in this race, which I think has surprised a lot of people in a climate that's very hostile to Democrats and in a very conservative state and she really has been hanging in there. She's down by about four points and I think this is going to be something that's very hard for her to recover from.

KELLY: Really?

POWERS: And she just insulted all the voters. She essentially said that voter -- the voters in her state are racist and have problems with women.

KELLY: And sexist, the double whammy.

POWERS: Yeah, I just -- I don't understand why she would say something like that. I think that -- and clearly they elected her.

KELLY: Right.

POWERS: Right? So I don't know why she would say that.

KELLY: And you look at, you know, I mean, we were just talking about New Hampshire earlier. President Obama has a 38 percent --

POWERS: Right. Exactly.

KELLY: -- approval rating of that -- that's not in the South and yet, people don't really love his policies.

POWERS: It doesn't.

KELLTY: It doesn't always boil down to race.


KELLY: But we've seen a lot of Democrats make that mistake. What does it say she went to that place, at this point days before the election?

POWERS: I -- that she's very tired. I don't -- I really don't have a good explanation for it. But she should know.

KELLY: Do you think it was a mistake?


POWERS: I do think it was a mistake because I don't think that she could -- I doesn't strike me as the kind of thing that would necessarily turn out African-American voters, which is obviously something she's very concerned about.

KELLY: Right.

POWERS: It may be something -- perhaps, may be they think that and they are desperate. It strikes me as more of a gaffe though, because she's.

KELLY: You think they're gonna blow that up?

POWERS: Because she's -- well, the Republicans are definitely, I mean, there's no question. And also, even on the --- the gender thing doesn't make any sense. I mean, I don't think that's going to necessarily help her. I mean, she --

KELLY: They put her in office three times.

POWERS: Yeah, yeah. And I --

KELLY: She's suggesting they're sexist?

POWERS: Yeah, I mean, and plus, you said, there's such an easy answer. The president is just unpopular.

KELLY: right.

POWERS: I mean he is just unpopular across the country.

KELLY: Why does it have to be about his color?

POWERS: It doesn't have to be, you know anything other than that. And so, could be just that she was saying what she thinks, could be a strategy because she is now down and desperate. Though, you know we don't really know -- I'm surprised at how close she's actually been able to keep it, and so, this just seem like -- if this was a strategy, I think it's a pretty risky strategy.

KELLY: A risky one.

POWRS: Yeah.

KELLY: What do you make you know, we heard Hillary Clinton stumping in Iowa and saying it doesn't matter, you know, it's not just about being a woman, it's about being an advocate for women's policies.

POWERS: Right.

KELLY: I mean, legitimate point?

POWERS: It's a Democratic talking point for sure. I think that's something a lot of Democrats believe that if you are for women then you are pro-choice and you are pro a variety of Democratic ideals. I think that Joni Ernst is somebody who's kind of turning this all upside down though. She's somebody who's running a different kind of race, and I think it's a good model for Republicans, where she has -- you know, she's never said that she's trying to break the glass ceiling, though she has showcased the fact that she's a mother. She's showcasing both her femininity --

KELLY: She's leading by example without making gender an issue --

POWERS: -- but she's not being over in a state that has never elected -- never sent a woman to Washington. So she's aware of that. You contrast that with the house -- the Democratic House candidate who is explicitly saying, "Send me to Washington I'll be the first woman to go to Washington."

So, I think what Joni Ernst has done is she highlighted her national security credentials.

KELLY: Here's another question for you.


KELLY: Do you think that statement could come back to haunt Hillary Clinton, the first half of it? It's not just about electing a woman.

POWERS: Right.

KELLY: That's not the point, just to put a woman in office. Because, a lot -- I hear women in casual conversations say, "I would vote for Hillary just because I want to see a woman win the presidency."

POWERS: Right, right. Well, that she would then, no, because, it works for her because she does have all the right positions, right?

KELLY: But Republicans will cut off the second half.


KELLY: Say, even she admits.


KELLY: You don't put somebody in the office just because of gender.

POWERS: Which I think she would probably would say. I think if you pressed her, she'd probably say, "No, I don't think you don't do it because of the gender. I think you do it because I'm gonna stand up for women and Democrats stand up for women."

KELLY: Great to see you.

POWERS: Good to be here.

KELLY: Kirsten Powers.

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