“Can I tell you just how proud I am to be that woman? I never measure myself against what Donald Trump would think of me. But if I am exactly what he hates, and I think I am, it makes me feel all the more necessary.”
By Michael Kruse
CLEVELAND—Connie Schultz stood at her stove this week and stirred a big pot of thick vegetarian chili. On the long brown table set and waiting for lunch was a copy of that day’s New York Times, folded and opened to a page with a column with a headline I couldn’t help but notice, “The Secret to Winning in 2020,” and on the refrigerator and the walls around her were pictures of her four children and her seven grandchildren and of course her husband, too—the only statewide elected Democrat in Ohio, the potential presidential candidate, Senator Sherrod Brown.
Brown, 66, the curly-haired progressive populist who was preaching fair trade over free trade back when Donald Trump was reintroducing himself as a reality television business boss, last month won a third term in the Senate in part by winning back a sufficient slice of those who had voted for Trump two years before. His six-point victory in a state Trump carried by 8 prompted immediate 2020 chatter. Brown himself labeled it “a blueprint for America.” Hailing from this perennially critical swing spot—and this region of the country that decided the last presidential election and almost certainly will decide the next one as well—he has the unusual and proven ability, according to strategists from both parties, to appeal to black voters and urban liberals and workers in fading factory towns. For these reasons, Trump aides say, Brown is on a short list of possible foes the president fears.
“We’ve heard that, too,” Schultz said, ladling chili into bowls.
“And I would say,” she added, “… good—because he should.”
She readied shredded cheese and sour cream and offered cornbread from a cast-iron skillet.
“Not because Sherrod’s a scary guy or a mean guy,” she continued. “Because Sherrod’s onto him. Sherrod is who these voters thought Trump was.”
Genuine blue-collar back story
If there is a commonly held image of how a political spouse should behave—seen and heard but not too much, not exactly muzzled but certainly measured, ever aware of some nebulous, help-or-hurt calculus—Connie Schultz is not it. And only Sherrod Brown—no other person who might run for president—has a her. She’s not just a spouse who’s a journalist. She’s a spouse who’s a journalist who’s a liberal feminist columnist who’s won a Pulitzer Prize and teaches journalism at her alma mater at Kent State University. She’s a spouse who’s a journalist who’s a liberal feminist columnist who’s won a Pulitzer Prize and who is a Christian who actually practices her faith. She’s a spouse who’s a journalist who’s a liberal feminist columnist who’s won a Pulitzer Prize who is a Christian and who also packs a blue-collar backstory as the Ashtabula-born-and-bred-daughter of a maintenance mechanic and a nurse’s aide. She has working-class cred, a powerful platform and opinions she is utterly unafraid to express. And she’s all these things at a moment when the current president is unceasing with his anti-press invective. …