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. tom

    come on that does not hold any water bring another one. when there is a fight like this one has to win, in this case Obama won. If it was sexism as you put it you could have got out of the race long time ago. Wrong place and time to pick up a fight go with grace train Chelsea who knows there are may more good women out there who can and who will be presidents you are not the LAST BORN WOMAN OF AMERICA give it up. My daughter is smart who knows she will be one.

    May 20, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. Chris, Middletown, CT

    "sexism" is when you discriminate against someone based on their gender

    what do you call it when you discriminate against someone solely on their inability to tell the truth….Hillaryism?

    We do not support you because you are incapable of telling the truth – period!

    May 20, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  3. adocarbog

    People should go to and see the cross tabs because the sample size is huge over 4000 interviews and it shows HRC slipping in every category. Losing even among women now.

    May 20, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  4. sue

    If you can't take the heat hilary, then maybe you should take up baking cookies.

    May 20, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. Darth Vadik, CA

    Even Robert Byrd chose Obama.

    May 20, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  6. suzette

    So, Hillary get over it, you make it so we cannot vote for you if you you run again. You want to run like a man dress like a man and when you do not win you you want to be a women. YOU WANT TO WIN AT ANY CAUSE, YOU ARE MAKING IT HARD FOR US WOMEN . I am a 59 year old woman, and but not a cryer like you.


    May 20, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  7. That's ok

    Not to worry Hillary – the world has seen what occurred here and the last word will be with the voters. We will know just why you could not obtain the nomination and we – the voters – will have our say in November. We are not desparte – we just will not vote for Obma.

    May 20, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  8. boomonkey

    So Hill is saying that there has been rampant sexism during the nomination race, but not racism? She is clearly off her rocker at this point. I realize that there is a lot of stress and strain in a long nomination process like this, but she is really, really going to regret here behavior when she gets some rest and perspective... fortunetey that opportunity shouldn't be long from now. Bless her little heart...

    May 20, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  9. Steven

    Just because you lost doesn't mean the voters are sexists just because they didn't vote for you. Could it be you political and personal history that turned voters away rather than your gender? I believe that is the most likely answer. You got outplayed by Obama, who you wrote off as a non-competitor early in the race.

    May 20, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  10. Luke

    Racism isn't a factor in this campaign? Tell that to the Obama supporters in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Indiana who faced everything from bomb threats to vandalism to sheer hate speech. And make sure to tell your husband while you're at it.

    May 20, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  11. Steve


    I'm really tired of this moronic sexism argument, as if Obama being a black man has somehow made it EASIER on him than the Hillary. The amount of cognitive dissonance coming from her, her campaign and her supporters is staggering..

    May 20, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  12. Marilyn

    Hillary is right. It is still okay in this country to attack a woman, but God help you if you do or say anything that might offend a black person.

    May 20, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. jonny

    What Hillary doesn't understand is that people aren't being sexist, its just that Hillary has a scary, horrible personality, and that is what turns people off, not the fact that she is female. I am a female and I would never vote for Hillary, but I do think in general, a woman would be a better leader. Just NOT Hillary.

    May 20, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  14. Carol

    The worst claim of sexism is against Clinton and her army of fanatical women followers who are only voting for her because she is a WOMAN !!!

    May 20, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. Marie

    Give me a break! Voters are clearly admitting they are not voting for Obama because he is an African American. Hillary will try anything to say why she is not winning. She and Geraldine need to grow up!

    May 20, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  16. right source

    Ferraro and Clinton are still making last attempts for this presidential bid. Clinton, you can't be president and constantly whine. People are going to say and do things to you that are unappropriate. Do it make it right, of course not. Things like this happen to everyday citizens, so take the pledge of the everyday citizens, "IF IT DOESN'T APPLY THEN YOU MUST DENY!!!!"

    May 20, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  17. JOSH

    good going keep it up. I am doing my part for you every day. I myself did some things in my past to sell to limo drivers cab drivers etc. i know why the limo driver knew him because he either had the stuff or knew where to get the stuff. I’ve been there . you are 100 percent true. i believe you

    May 20, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  18. LAI

    This kind of pity-party whining is unbecoming and, as a woman who has watched this race closely I must say, unjustified. She is hurting women and diminishing every legitimate charge of sexism leveled by women who are really victims. Wasnt it you who said, "If you cant stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!"... (KITCHEN! WAIT... oh yea, men cook too... pshewww. That was a close one!)

    May 20, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  19. Darth Vadik, CA

    The Clintons are the Past, Obama is the future.

    McCain or Clinton, oh please get your heads checked.

    May 20, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  20. Ruben Regan

    I promise to vote for HRC in 2016 but for today its Obama.

    May 20, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  21. Ding, Washington, DC

    Didn't Bill Clinton, not too long ago, say that his wife never whine? I thought she is in the race because Karl Rove says so.

    Karl Rove does not have a college degree because math. Now, he is doing some kind of math for Senator Clinton. Sounds like the lowest of all roads to me.

    May 20, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  22. Kelly

    As a white woman, Hillary only recognizes sexism, which is why words like "hard-working" and "white" roll off her tongue without a single thought. If she were an African-American woman she'd see both racism and sexism. Her comment to her own racist remarks were to simply agree that they were indeed 'dumb,' but she never acknowledges that they were racist. She is blind to racism, seeing the only 'ism' that relates to her: sexism. Open your eyes Hillary, it's still a sexist and racist world, but look where we've come, two candidates: African-American, and Female, running for presidency in our sexist racist world. Yes, indeed, we've come a long way, with a long road still ahead!

    May 20, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  23. Rich

    You did not just go there, did you? I cannot believe this. Is this really how you want to be remembered?

    "nothing but misogynists" – That is an extreme allegation to make and almost certainly untrue. People are much more complex and multifaceted than this. I think we all need to be very careful about throwing words like racist or misogynist around at any hint of race or gender playing a role. Let's not forget that Clinton benefits from her gender, too (e.g. older women who want to live to see a female president). It would be great if race and gender played no role, but I'd much rather see people voting for something (first female president, first African American president) than against (anything but a woman, anything but an African American).

    May 20, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  24. scott C

    So if the DNC doesn't override the results of the election and nominate Clinton, even though she is the clear loser, then you will vote McCain.

    If you think Clinton supporters aren't going to vote Obama, but if Obama, the winner is denied the nomination that his supporters would vote Clinton, you are delusional.

    Clinton, if she doesn't WIN but is appointed, is 100% unelectable.

    Obama IS the nominee, if you want to vote for someone out of spite, then you are pathetic.

    May 20, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  25. tidho

    She doesn't think racism has played a role but does think sexism has?...she needs a nap.

    Its pretty clear both have been factors in both directions. I don't know which will have played a larger part in the overall outcome but its obvious to everyone they've been factors.

    When you look into the crowd and see signs like 'you go girl' – guess what that's sexism working in your favor.

    May 20, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
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