December 10, 2019 / 7:42 AM / a month ago

Rapinoe adds a goal for 2020: helping Democrats win White House

NEW YORK (Reuters) - From award shows to magazine covers, it can often feel as though Megan Rapinoe is everywhere - and soon, that might include rallies for Democratic presidential candidates.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Champions Parade - New York, United States - July 10, 2019 Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. during the parade REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The U.S. women’s national soccer team’s fiery co-captain is not running for office. But after helping the Americans clinch a second consecutive World Cup title, the 34-year-old winger is setting her sights on helping the 2020 presidential field.

From “smart and sharp” Elizabeth Warren, to “radical” Bernie Sanders and “charismatic” Cory Booker, Rapinoe is finding plenty to rally behind in the Democratic field.

“I think the most important thing is to get that maniac out of the White House,” Rapinoe told Reuters on Monday at Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year awards, where she won the top prize.

The Ballon D’or winner caught the ire of U.S. President Donald Trump after an expletive-punctuated clip emerged of her saying she would not visit the White House if her team won the World Cup.

On Monday, she reiterated that pledge and said she was ready to hit the road to rally support for his eventual opponent.

“Get me on the bus, get me on one of those planes,” Rapinoe said. “I want to rile people up! Something about me is motivating people to do something, or people are interested.

“If I’ve got to knock on doors to get people to vote, I’m down.”

She’ll have little time to spare in 2020: she and her team will head to Olympic qualifying matches early next year, before a May trial date for the U.S. squad’s gender discrimination lawsuit against their governing body.

Rapinoe has emerged as a social activist, notably taking a knee during the national anthem in 2016 in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police violence.

During her acceptance speech at the Sports Illustrated awards, Rapinoe called for greater racial and gender diversity at the publication, and criticised the relative dearth of female Sportsperson of the Year honorees.

“Sports Illustrated needs to look at itself and think, ‘what kind of story are we telling our subscribers and are we telling the country about sports in America?” Rapinoe told Reuters. “As a sports news organization, what news are you reporting? There seems to be a heavy bias on the guys.”

Stephen Cannella, co-editor in chief of Sports Illustrated, said in a statement: “We chose her as our Sportsperson of the Year for this very reason.”

“Last night she ended her gracious and heartfelt speech with, ‘Let’s just be better,’” said Cannella. “That is exactly what we intend to do.”

Reporting By Amy Tennery; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Giles Elgood

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