Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said Thursday during an appearance on MSNBC that she thought it was “outrageous” Vice President Mike Pence would not meet with women alone.
“I disagree with him when he suggests it’s not possible to have meetings with women alone by himself,” the California senator and 2020 Democratic presidential contender told MSNBC on Thursday. “I think that’s ridiculous― the idea that you would deny a professional woman the opportunity to have a meeting with the vice president of the United States is outrageous.”
The vice president’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah, quickly fired back at Harris in a Thursday tweet, refuting Harris’ claim and telling her the vice president has promoted women to leadership positions within his office and has relied on his female staffers for “advice and counsel”:
Hi, @SenKamalaHarris: I’m a female Senior Advisor to Mike Pence & am wondering why you are repeating this false claim? He’s elevated women to positions of leadership throughout his career & relies on their advice & counsel. Get your facts straight. https://t.co/oCTHKQpcdn
— Alyssa Farah (@VPPressSec) March 14, 2019
“I’m a female Senior Advisor to Mike Pence & am wondering why you are repeating this false claim?” Farah tweeted. “He’s elevated women to positions of leadership throughout his career & relies on their advice & counsel. Get your facts straight.”
Harris was referring to a 2002 interview where Pence revealed that he never dines alone with women other than his wife Karen and does not drink in public unless his wife is by his side.
When Pence’s comments resurfaced in a 2017 Washington Post article, several critics accused the vice president of putting career-minded women at a disadvantage for a “dumb dinner rule” and promoting a worldview “where men have no self-control, and women are either temptresses or guardians of virtue.”
Despite the backlash in the press, a New York Times poll from that same year found that most Americans agreed with Pence’s principle of not eating alone with women other than his wife.