Cecile Richards On Running For Office: "Never Say Never"

Photo: Courtesy of Rod Morata/Michael Priest Photography.
It was the question on everyone's lips at the 92nd Street Y on Tuesday night as comedian Jessica Williams interviewed Cecile Richards about her best-selling book Make Trouble. During the Q&A portion, people sent up index cards to the stage reading, "Are you running for office?" and "#RichardsWilliams2020."
Richards deflected the questions onstage, but in an interview with Refinery29 backstage organized by OkCupid the outgoing president of Planned Parenthood said she wouldn't rule out running for office.
"Never say never, right?" she said. "Don't box yourself out. I think as women, we need to have more tapes in our head that say, 'You know, I could do that.' [laughs] And so, I never want to say there's something I'm not going to do. There's no reason to foreclose things."
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Richards said that "just going for it" is a lesson she's learned from her mom — Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas — who, as she describes in her book, encouraged her to go to her Planned Parenthood interview in 2006, right before she died.
She said, however, that for now, she feels more comfortable being behind the scenes. With her background as a political organizer, she said she's seen firsthand what it a difference it can make. "Helping other people organize...to hold people in office accountable for issues that matter, that brings me real joy," she said. "I've seen the power of people organizing together...and there's a role for that that's as important as having good people in office."
After she stepped down from her position, she's made it clear that she wants to help organize women to get out and vote in the 2018 midterm elections — but hasn't elaborated on the shape this work will take yet.
"I'm trying to talk to women about what it is they want to see in government and the political environment that's not happening right now — affordable healthcare, equal pay, affordable childcare, good public schools," she said. "These are issues that I just don't see being talked about in Washington, and I think it's important that women not only run for office and vote, but also really organize around things that they want and need. That, to me, is exciting."
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