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. bridgette

    Maybe to her there has been some sexisim going on. I don't see it but maybe to her it's there. I think that they both ran a good race and it's now over. I think she fought the good fight and won some battles and in the end she just didn't win the war. The bottom line is he just got more votes and more delegates. I don't think it was people picking on her or anything else like that I think it was just a time for change. I think the American people are ready for it and it appears to be happening. I think she should be proud of herself she ran a good race.

    May 20, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  2. David

    stop crying

    May 20, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  3. Joseph

    I don't like her for a lot of reasons, and guess what? I don't care one bit that she's a woman. I would gladly vote for a woman if I felt that she was the better candidate. The simple fact is that I think that Obama is the much better candidate in my opinion.

    May 20, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  4. Adam


    This is just ridiculous.

    Hillary isn't losing because of sexism. Perhaps Sexism just hasn't been as big of an issue in the campaign because it's not as big of an issue overall. I think America—myself included— is ready for a woman president, and will have no trouble electing one when the right one comes along. Men and women have been split equally to either side throughout the campaign—men for Hillary in one state, men for Obama in another, women for Hillary in another, etc....

    However, I think it says much more about the state of the nation when votes are dividing right down racial lines over and over again. I think there is still much more racial tension in this country than even the media says. I even see it in people in my own family, and it's sad.

    I think this is just another tactic to draw attention to the Clinton campaign. She's like the Bush-Cheney view of Iraqi insurgents: in her "death throws". Which translates to: Nowhere near even thinking about a sane course of action that leads to an eventual bow-out.

    May 20, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  5. marty

    I cannot believe the people who say Obama did not play the race card. From the beginning he mentioned Martin Luther King, and his dream. Oprah came out and excited the crowds in the black states. The black states that voted for Obama are no different then West Virginia, just different colored people. He played to the crowds, the "urgency of now", he stole from MLK. He continues to say how a 46 year old black man dares to run for president. If that isn't racist I don't know what is.

    May 20, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  6. J. Moses

    Doesn't believe that racism played a role, but sexism hurt hur run? Are you kidding ? How jaw dropingly ignorant and self serving. Good lord !

    May 20, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  7. Nick

    Why would Hillary supporters cut their nose to spite their face by voting for a right-wing Bush clone? Democrat unite!

    May 20, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  8. B-NYC

    She is absolutly right! She has been treated like total crap by the media! And yet, she has not quit and held her head high! She is a TRUE leader and if she decides to run as an Independent, she totally has my vote!

    I can't wait to NOT vote for Obama.

    May 20, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  9. gmthomas

    Amzaing. She mishandles her campaign, has no plans after Super-Tuesday, and she is well past throwing the kitchen sink at Obama. She is losing, and rather than plan a graceful exit strategy to preserve the Clinton legacy and her own, she attacks anything she can. To say their is no racism in this primary is the sign of a bitter candidate, not someone who we need in the White House.

    May 20, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  10. David

    Hillary seem to touch every sensitive issue to somehow derail Obama's nomination.
    She played the race card and now the sexism? How pathetic....
    The American people know better. Eventhough there is sexism just like there is racism, I don't think the reason why she lost has anything to do with sexism. Infact she got where she is now due to Bill Clinton's presidency. She got very favourable media coverage until recently when it became apparent that she has no chance.
    We cann't give her the nomination at any cost.
    I think she should thank the American people for the opportunity she got and bow out with grace.

    May 20, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  11. Alex in TX

    Yes dare you ignore sexism...after all 50% or more of women now support Obama and we know they are the most sexist people in the country.

    May 20, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  12. Franky

    No comment.......I'm not even gonna bother and say anything. I've already made up my mind about Hillary, is her life....

    May 20, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  13. Oregon calling -

    And she has a campaign office across from a "gentleman's" club or stripper bar, if you will, here in Springfield.... sexism?!?! Give me a break. ... People would rather be lied to imstead of embracing Change........
    Obama 08

    May 20, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  14. Vik

    Maybe she should give a talk about sexism like Barak gave a speech about race relations. Try to do something positive instead of saying other people should be more responsible for making an issue of it.

    May 20, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  15. Rachel

    Ferraro is absolutely right.

    I don't believe either race or sex should be an issue but if race is going to be such a huge factor than it is equally important to discuss sexism. Which has been alive and well in the MSM.

    May 20, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  16. working girl

    Let's try this again CNN:

    The Obama campaign volunteers receive bomb threats on an almost daily basis. They have doors slammed in their faces by people with pre-civil-rights Jim Crow attitudes. They are told that Hillary has the "white vote" by the candidate herself, but there is no racism!! This while Senator Obama calmly thanks his volunteers and reminds them that this is not the general feeling in America.

    Meanwhile no one on Clinton's volunteer staff has complained of ANY sexist attitudes, yet she screams foul to the entire world, calls every outlet of media she can think of to decry this injustice, and blame them for being biased. She has her supporters organizing rallies that will do little more than further divide the party at the eleventh hour.

    Will this woman ever stop?? She makes me so ashamed of my gender.

    May 20, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  17. Ms. Ogynist

    Finally. Thank God she finally said it...and blew the shrouds right away from her own ridiculous bigotry. It wasn't bad enough that Geraldine Ferraro said it; Ferraro doesn't have enough credibility left to be taken too seriously.

    There's a simple fact that HRC–and many of her most ardent supporters–have failed to grasp: it's not OK anymore to expect someone to vote for you on the basis of their gender. In a campaign that promised to be about 'ideas', the one that I keep hearing loud and clear from HER is that her 'gender' is the reason why she is trailing. "Sisters UNITE! Vote for the Lady in the Pants Suit because she's one of YOU!"

    Ridiculous. I'm more than happy to vote for a woman, if she's the best candidate. HRC isn't. Plain and simple. And this kind of stuff just keeps proving it. It's the same sort of "I'm a uniter, not a divider" crap we heard from George Bush. Yeah...I can't wait to vote for more of that!

    May 20, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  18. Joshua College Station Texas

    No racism effects but yes sexism effects? Thanks Whinillary. I agree she is going against the tide, but don't diminish that Obama has done the same. None of the other presidential candidates on either side whined nearly this much when eventually they got pushed out of the race. Poor baby.

    When the right woman comes along, she will get elected.

    May 20, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  19. petra

    clinton who next are you going to blame for losing? your pets at home? chelsea?bill? or your mom?you have the right to blame anyone ,,dear,,,just as you have the right to lose to an underdog,,,things sometimes go the way we never expect,,,but its not the end of time,,as long as its for the best,,,so cheers up,, usa is not a royal or monarch country okay?,,,so get this into your head and carry on,,God bless america,,,God bless me

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

    Ferraro is right, if someone had said to Obama shine my shoes the media would have been talking about it for weeks!! For months the media has been pushing Obama over Hillary.Building up Obama and tearing down Hillary. Shame on the media. Vote McCain and Hillary for 2012. They did the same to Gore and Kerry lets teach they that we have power too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 20, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  21. derrick smith

    It is really sad to see Hilary clinton continuin to devide the democratic party with by causing her backers to hate B.obama ,in this way she will make sure that he do not get enough votes to win the white house and she will then say I KNEW THAT HE COULD NOT BEAT MC WHOEVER.Then in four years time she will say now you all can give me a chance and i will show you that i can beat P.MC WHOEVER

    Hillary you are a sour looooooosssssseeeerrrrr.

    OBAMA 2008.

    May 20, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  22. Jameson S.

    Back in 2000 the democratic presidency was snatched away by the republicans because of the so called "technicalities" or "rules" designed by people in power. The same people who handed the presidency to George W Bush that was clearly the biggest mistake of mankind. This country is in no need of another "regular kinda guy" or someone who appeals like the coolest candidate. Florida and Michigan needs to be counted because those people specifically casted they very own constitutional right to vote for whom they believe in would be the best candidate, and that is HILLARY CLINTON., Yes Barack Obama is ahead based on rules but majority of those people who voted for him earlier on did not know all these things we know now about him. Contrasting with George Bush again, knowing what we know now about him would have save this country from loosing so many fundamental things in life such as our country`s wealth, reputation, allies, jobs and most of all those 4000 plus young people who sacrificed themselves for someone`s EGO and arrogance. It is not worth reliving it all over again. DNC need to realize that we need to put someone not only can beat JOHN MCCain but also someone who will not disgrace the DEMOCRATIC PARTY. Our Beloved Country was loved by so many when we had the CLINTONS in the White House, why not let them clean up again after a BUSH's Mess. They did it back in the 90`s they will do it again now for us. HILLARY is by far the most qualified person for the job. As for the superdelegates if they are going to based their decision based on how the pledged delegate count from the PRIMARIES, then they shouldn't be what they are suppose to be ., and that is someone that can use their judgment and will to help elect the strongest not someone who is popular among young people that has not been reliable in making this kind of decision. THE BIGGEST DECISION we all NOW face as americans. MICHIGAN AND FLORIDA should count, POPULAR VOTE goes to HILLARY and we need her as our DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE.

    May 20, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  23. DY

    I will ONLY VOTE FOR HILLARY OR MCCAIN. There is NO other candidate come November!

    Wake up Obamabots. You know it's over either way the cookie crumbles.

    May 20, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  24. taylor richmond virginia

    you know, hillary was making a good point........until she said she didn't believe racism had been an issue in this campaign.

    May 20, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  25. Jagdish , Vancouver,Canada

    blame all that went wrong for you on your mate !!

    He did the most damage to you...even CLINTON name is mud now !!

    May 20, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
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