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Sen. Hirono in spotlight after call for men to 'step up'

Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is welcomed by protesters opposed to President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, as they demonstrate in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. Kavanaugh has denied stories of a sexual assault as alleged by California college professor Christine Blasey Ford. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The often low-key Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono has been thrust into the spotlight as she has unexpectedly become one of the most outspoken senators in defense of a woman who says she was assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh denies that account, which Christine Blasey Ford says happened when they were teenagers. But Ford's accusation has upended his confirmation process. Hirono said at a news conference Tuesday that she wanted the men in this country to "just shut up and step up."

The Democrat says her "shut up and step up" comments haven't just resonated with women.

In an interview with The Associated Press, she says she has talked to men who were happy she said that, because they want to be part of the movement too.