CHICAGO — Carol Moseley-Braun, the first black woman elected to the U.S. Senate, announced Tuesday that she would join the field of Democrats seeking the White House in 2004.
Moseley-Braun, 55, said she would emphasize her opposition to a war with Iraq and campaign on domestic issues, including the struggling U.S. economy.
"It's time to take the Men Only sign off the White House door," Moseley-Braun said during a speech at her alma mater, the University of Chicago Law School. She was surrounded by family and friends, and some supporters waved blue placards bearing the words "Ms. President."
Fresh from a weekend tour of early primary states -- including Iowa, where snow held her audience to just one old college chum -- Moseley-Braun tore into the Bush administration on issues foreign and domestic.
"I am a budget hawk and a peace dove," she said. "The unilateral attempt to take military action against Iraq is not in the interest of our long-term security. And the budget deficit is another matter. We have no right to saddle our children with our debt and our bad decisions."
The entry of candidate No. 8 -- at least five more are still mulling things over -- underscores how wide open the race for the Democratic nomination is. Beyond that, however, Moseley-Braun's impact is a big question mark.
On one hand, she is a forceful communicator, a seasoned politician and a statewide winner in one of the most important swing states in the country. Moseley-Braun also could have special appeal for two of the Democratic Party's most important blocs: women and African Americans.
On the other hand, she has been out of elective office since 1998, when she was unseated after a single term following accusations that she had lavished campaign funds on herself and her boyfriend, and that she had coddled the late Nigerian dictator Gen. Sani Abacha.
Moseley-Braun, a former Illinois state lawmaker and Cook County official, was elected to the Senate in 1992 -- a race she decided to enter after watching what she called the dismissive attitude displayed by the all-male Senate Judiciary Committee toward Anita Hill during the 1991 confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.
Moseley-Braun planned to file papers with the Federal Election Commission in Washington today. She currently teaches law in Chicago.