May 20th, 2008
06:55 PM ET
10 years ago

Clinton chastises press for ignoring sexism

Clinton said sexism has played a large role in the campaign.

Clinton said sexism has played a large role in the campaign.

(CNN) - In her most wide-ranging comments to date on the role gender has played in the Democratic presidential race, Hillary Clinton said sexist attacks on her campaign have been "deeply offensive," and sharply criticized the press for not raising the issue.

"There should be equal treatment of the sexism and the racism when it raises its ugly head," Clinton told the Washington Post in an article published in the paper's Tuesday edition. "It does seem as though the press at least is not as bothered by the incredible vitriol that has been engendered by the comments by people who are nothing but misogynists."

"…I believe this campaign has been a groundbreaker in a lot of ways. But it certainly has been challenging given some of the attitudes in the press."

Listen to excerpts from the Clinton interview.

Clinton, who is banking on a large win in Kentucky Tuesday to keep her presidential hopes alive, also said she doesn't believe racism has played a role in the presidential campaign. But the New York senator said sexist attitudes among voters and members of the media have been a constant detriment to her White House hopes.

Speaking with supporters on a Friday conference call, Clinton said she regretted that many of them have faced sexist attacks.

"I deeply regret the vitriol and the mean-spiritedness and the terrible insults and rhetoric that has been thrown around at you for supporting me, at women in general, at many of those who support my campaign because of who they are and their stand based on principle," she said. "I don't have time for their insults, I'm impervious to them."

Some of those supporters are taking up Clinton’s complaint. Several pro-Clinton and women’s groups are holding rallies Tuesday in swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and Michigan, and outside network studios in Burbank, California.

“If you want to have your voice heard saying, ‘enough is enough!’ then please join us in support of all American women who refuse to be diminished in the American Press,” says Professionals for Hillary in a statement e-mailed to supporters and posted on the group’s Web site.

“We need your support at these rallies to show America that women are not putting up with this anymore! Please send this information to all your Hillary friends and family. Bring your Hillary signs. We need to send a strong message to the media and the Democratic Party that says, ‘not so fast!’”

In an interview with the New York Times over the weekend, 1984 Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro – who supports Clinton - said she may not vote for Barack Obama if he is the party's nominee and said he has acted "terribly sexist."

Speaking on NBC's Today Show Tuesday, Ferraro also said, sexism was "rampant" in this year's presidential campaign. "There is a real difference in this country. It is not okay to be racist. It is just not. It is almost acceptable to be sexist," said Ferraro.

Ferraro has not shied away from discussing the impact of race and gender throughout the Democratic presidential campaign. In March, the former congresswoman told a California newspaper the chief reason Obama's candidacy was successful was because he was black. She maintained her comments were not racist, but ultimately resigned her finance post from the Clinton campaign after they caused an uproar.

Speaking with NBC Tuesday, Ferraro pointed to New Hampshire Clinton rally during which a man in the audience displayed a sign saying "Iron my shirt."

"Suppose somebody at that Barack Obama rally said 'Shine my shoes,'" Ferraro said. “The person would have been swamped by the media saying, ‘what, are you a racist?’ Hillary barely saw press on this. It is not only the Obama campaign. It is how the press has handled this."

soundoff (638 Responses)
  1. rob

    I am sure race and sex have played huge roles in this years elections but to claim that one has been more prevalent than the other is ridiculous. That is like Hillary saying I am more of a woman than Barack is african american. But maybe she believes that

    May 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. Pookie

    Hillary ...Babe...Im not a woman hater,I am a Hillary hater.I love women,I would vote for a woman for president,if there were one running who I thought was a decent human being,but this campaign has shown us all your true colors,and you are acting like a republican,and you are the one to blame for your defeat,its not sexism,sure there are some sexists out there,but there are many more lost because you chose to play ugly,to do all in your power to ruin your own party,and because you continually took the low road,we democrats are tired of politics as usual,and the slimy republican tactics,and you became just that this year,after the primaries have ended and you are reflecting on what you could have done different,remember most of us democrats are caring people,which you seemed to forget while busily attacking Obama.Its not sexism that killed your campaign,it was you.

    May 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. C from the D

    HRC's campaign has nothing to blame but itself for losing. She's pandered, lied, squandered money, miscalculated, and come up with ridiculous mathematical scenarios to win the election AND SHE STILL CAN'T DO IT. The so called "sexist media," not Obama's fault, Michigan and Florida, not Obama's fault, VERY poorly managed campaign, not Obama's fault... He just played the deck he was given much better than HRC. I want her to stay in and duke it out as long as she can, but campaign on the issues (thats what she began the race doing) and let the voter cast an informed, not racially motivated or gender motivated, vote.

    OH YEAH... Yes We Can!

    May 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. john williams san diego, ca.

    YOUR ROYAL HIGHNESS, your defeat has nothing to do with sexism. You deserve your fate because of your vindictiveness, your scheming deals at other peoples expense, your habitual lying and your COMPLETE lack of integrity...Thirty five years of despiteful disrespect of American voters has led you to this defeat by a lone black candidate that you and your war/slime machine would never believe could happen. Now go in peace, but please just GO AWAY..

    May 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  5. DPZ

    Ferraro is another one of those bitter Hillary supporters who cant except defeat and I really think Hillary is doing more harm to the party than good she is causing controversy playing the people well not the people she is playing women voters(The small amount that voted for her) and the Florida and Michigan voters against Obama and the DNC
    but it is not there fault she ran a absurd race she thought she had it in the bag and she did not.She is looking for some extra help.She has lost and a lot of female voters(the ones who voted for her)or going to feel cheated because they put their faith and trust into a woman who will do or say anything to get into the white house she is the Monica
    of politic(you know the her husband dogged her out with...)

    OBAMA 08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  6. Tim, Seattle, lets hear spcific instances of sexism that hurt Clinton's chances...anyone? Bueller...Bueller? its the victim card.

    May 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. Mohan from california

    Its high Time that she has to quit the race. She has to start working on protecting her senate seat in future. Opening her mouth further will only spoil Obama's win in november.

    May 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  8. Pradeep Srivastava

    Did you notice how McCain is changing the debate from economy, which is his weak point, to foreign affairs and national security, which is his strong suit? Although Obama has been responding to McCain's attacks, he sounds too defensive, especially, when McCain, rightly, claims that Obama is inexperienced and shows bad judgment when he recommends talking to rogue states without preconditions. Hillary told Obama the same thing during one of the debates, but who cares? We seem to be more interested in showing off to the world that a black man can become a US president than in electing an experienced, competent and tough candidate, like Hillary.

    May 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  9. RR

    What will she complain about next....

    May 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  10. anon

    Cue the:

    "He can't win in November!!"


    "If not Hillary, I'll vote for McCain!"

    in 5…..4…..3…..2…..1……

    May 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  11. Oh! The Irony

    The last fluid ounce of dignity she possessed has just trickled out of her body and evaporated.

    She is trying to incite negativity towards Barack's campaign this fall by upsetting his would-be female supporters to the point where they will become too bitter to vote.

    This truly is a disgusting move by Senator Clinton. I'm dissapointed by her remarks and am ashamed that I was once a fan of hers.

    This whole campaign has been about black/white voter trends primarily with man/woman trends a distant second.


    A hard-working black man (yes Hillary, blacks work hard too)

    May 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  12. Jessica, MI

    I still don't understand why the idiotic Ferraro can comment that Obama has acted "terribly sexist" and then her only "evidence" is some idiot with an "iron my shirt" sign that has nothing to do with Obama.

    May 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  13. Ed

    Can you please repeat that? What did yoy say, Madam Senator????????????

    May 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  14. rick

    I can't believe that she keeps whining about all of this like she has. A man wouldn't whine like this.

    May 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  15. R. Cooper

    Typical. Hillary blames everyone except herself. Who is to blame for her campaign debt? If she can't manage a presidential campaign how can she possibly manage the country? Go ahead Hillary and please blame anyone else you intend to blame for your loss so you can finally step aside.

    May 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  16. Daniel Santos

    I support Barack Obama, and I am a Democrat. I don't agree with that moron who held up an Iron my shirt sign. That was sexist and ignorant.

    I agree that sexism, like racism, continues to exist today. What I want to know is how Obama was sexist? What did he do specifically to disempower or disrespect women? This article does not point out to any reference of any sexists action by Barack, just simply an accusation by Ferraro. So where is the smoking gun?

    May 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  17. Bill

    Hillary has aligned herself with a staff, many of whom are sleazebags male, and female. Rather than look at her shortcomings she has blamed the media, and others for her current status. Hillary promises jobs, etc. while her staff angles to get more unfair trade deals. Step up, and be honest you are not what you say you are. I can think of several women who could become our President. Hillary, and Bill Clinton are unable to be honest with themselves. That is their problem not not the media's doing. Ferraro likes to hear herself talk. I am relieved that she didn't become VP.

    May 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  18. Heather Johnston

    I think that is a misquote. I saw earlier where she said she didn't think racism was a huge factor, not that it wasn't a factor at all. And Obama's camp, shrewdly, wants to play down issues of race. The problem, of course, it that many people are racist and in an ugly, if not effective, move, Hillary went after them in WVA. Frankly, I don't think she's saying sexism is why she's not winning, it is just that the discussions of her campaign have been rather harsh, and some of us are tired of them.

    May 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  19. Ray

    The Media has handed this election to Obama from day one...there has been obvious favoritism by especially MSNBC & to some extent CNN. Just hope Obama can win in November, as current polls show we'll be stuck with Mc"Lame"....Hillary would beat him, but Obama has an uphill battle especially in FL, OH, WV and others which we need to win in November....

    May 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  20. The Watcher

    "There should be equal treatment of the sexism and the racism when it raises its ugly head," Clinton told the Washing Post in an article published in the paper's Tuesday edition."

    The Washing Post? That is just plain ole sexist.

    May 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  21. TJ

    Sexist my foot...

    This is just another ploy by the Clinton machine to discredit the Democratic party such that it results in a loss in November, in order that she can have a chance to run again in 2012.

    I had hopes that she would exit the race gracefully. Fat chance of that happening now. She'd rather destroy the party than see someone else take away her "right" to the presidency.

    For those of you who will claim this is a sexist campaign.. please provide proof.. research.. show me something that backs up what Clinton is saying. If you feel you can't, then you are just sheep and deserve to have this nutball be your inspiration.

    May 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  22. mama for obama

    Hillary is finished...

    I can't wait to vote for Barack!

    His speeches are really nice and the non-stop rhetoric about hope and change really motivates me.

    Who cares if there is absolutely no substance to anything he says. This country needs a motivational speaker, not a skilled and experienced leader.

    And besides...his three years as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee clearly qualifies him to be the next Commander in Chief.

    I think an immediate withdrawal from Iraq and the beginning of negotiations with Hamas and Iran is the right thing to do. The terrorists are people too...they can be reasoned with. Diplomacy always works with these people. I bet if we are nice to them they will just leave us alone 🙂

    I "HOPE"???

    May 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  23. Barack the Vote in RI


    pay no attention to the lady in the pantsuit, behind the curtain...

    May 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  24. ki-jana carter

    Blah blah. Have fun doing the dishes after you finish losing.

    May 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  25. BlameBarack

    i don't understand Hillary. She is a true opportunist, which I give her credit for, but some of her shanagans have proved to be unbelievable! I believe she, as a woman, received just as much press time as Obama. And then to say that the media blows up over racism? I have seen the exploitation of the media on both racism and feminism. I think she just finally decided that she has nothing more to lose so when Ferraro brings up something to get peoples' attention, Hillary takes that and runs with it. I mean the media didn't necessarily blow up all the racism Obama supporters endured while helping with the campaigns. These people actually received bomb threats! That just goes to show that racial lines are far more deep than gender lines. That is why this election is so important. If we can't break the racial barriers, how in the heck will break the gender barriers? Hillary has done so much for so many women, like myself, as far as showing how much a woman is capable of doing. I am for Barack Obama. I am a women and Hillary is not my first choice. I think she is dishonest, negative, manipulative, and calculating. It has nothing to do with her gender. This morning Bill Clinton was dissing Obama supporters and the media, saying that we are educated and have degrees so we don't have a problem with paying for gas.... I didn't appreciate that comment one bit. The truth of the matter is that Hillary has probably dealt with as much feminism as Barack has racism. Fair? Not to Hillary because the only thing that matters is what she thinks just like no states matter except for the states she has won, no women matter exept for the women who voted for her, rural white white voters are more important because they voted for her? Well, Hillary. What about the women who voted for Barack? Just leave it alone because you are not speaking for ALL women!!!!!

    Obama '08

    May 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
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