Dem strategist slams media obsession with Elizabeth Warren’s 'likability' on CNN: ‘It’s not about running for prom queen’
Senator Elizabeth Warren (Public Citizen/Flickr)

No sooner had Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) announced she's running for president and headed to Iowa than mainstream political reporters started talking about her possible "likability" issues.

Politico published a massive feature about how Warren is battling "the ghosts of Hillary" by a reporter who did extensive reporting on former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's personal email server.

Warren is headed to Iowa this weekend after announcing she started a 2020 exploratory committee. Warren declined to run in 2016 despite aggressive lobbying by supporters and has spent the last two years on the armed services committee learning about foreign policy.

Jess McIntosh, a former outreach coordinator for Hillary Clinton, appeared on CNN Wednesday to discuss Warren's decision and the coverage that followed, attacking the media obsession with her "likability" as a code word for sexism.

"I think Elizabeth Warren has done a good job over the last couple of years of solidifying a base across the country," she said. "If we are going to have a field of 30 people, grassroots fundraising is going to matter a lot. Having real support on the ground in all 50 states is going to matter a lot. And she had to do a lot of campaigning. She knows she needs to be in Iowa now to talk to the voters. She has not done that retail politicking that is more transparent for a presidential run than other candidates have."

Host Alisyn Camerota asked McIntosh if Warren declined to run in 2016 "out of some deference" in 2016.

"I think if Elizabeth Warren would have wanted to run, she would have," McIntosh said. "I think that there was a sexist positioning of Elizabeth Warren as the woman who was not Hillary Clinton. You heard a lot of 'I would be happy to vote for a woman for president if Elizabeth Warren was in the race...' Well, it's 2019 now, and Elizabeth Warren is in the race and I want to know if that tone has changed?"

McIntosh said the media needs to do a better job covering Warren than it did Clinton.

"In the very beginning, as we just start to see women candidates coming through, I want to be cautious that we don't fall into the sexist trap of talking about their likability exclusively," she said. "It's not about running for prom queen, it's about running for president, and we need to make sure we are treating the women in the race the same as the men."

Watch the segment below.