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. The difference between Hillary and Obama

    I think the a very significant difference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is shown in fact that Hillary can complain about sexism being shown toward her...which I agree is very true. However, she can't acknowledge the fact that racism being a part of the campaign and directed toward Obama. Obama has done nothing but be gracious and give her credit for her hard work for fighting through the obstacles that she has faced. He has repeatedly said that the race should continue when others were trying to push her to the side.

    She can't even acknowledge a racist element to some things that were said or have happened? She has zero credibility! At least Obama would acknowledge both sides of the issue.

    May 20, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  2. silence do good

    Sexism 101:

    Obama points out racism – brave, forward thinking, champion, hero
    Hillary points out sexism – whining, sad, weak, calculating

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

    Clinton started this race with a 30 point lead, and now she has a 20 point defecit. Unless she's arguing that its a newflash that she's female, it seems that everyone has been perfectly willing to support a female candidate on equal grounds. But last I checked, her gender hasn't changed in the last six months, and its not the reason why she's suddenly past tense.

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

    Earth to Hillary, earth to Hillary: It's over, we're beaming you up.

    May 20, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  5. MillionMan, Washington, DC

    This is my latest disappointment with Hillary. To deny that race has played a role in the campaign is dellusional!!!!

    I am also confused by Hillary supporters who indicate they will vote for McCain if Obama gets the Dem. nomination! Are you folks not Democrats!!?? Would you really prefer to cut off your nose just to spite your face?

    McCain is not an independent! He is a Bush Republican! He has sold out any "maverick inclinations" in him to pander to the right-wing conservative base of the Republicans. His reversal on the tax cuts, his speech on appointing conservative judges, his denial of not having voted for Bush, etc. all speak to this pandering.

    Obama is a black man running for president. He has received Secret Service protection earlier than any other candidate in history. His life, his wife's life and the lives of their two daughters are being threatened every day. Would not only a patriot go through this!?

    Don’t Obama and Hillary agree on most major issues!?

    Thus, the questions become: Are you more racist than Democrat!?
    Are you more racist than pro choice!? Are you more racist than anti-tax cuts for the rich!?

    May 20, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  6. twister49 - oklahoma

    Anyone with an open-mind – can truely see that there has been sexism in the campaing and Yes, there has been racism on both sides.... Which is so unsettling to me– this is 2008 and we are still talking about gender and race..... it's a shame....

    May 20, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  7. Hanging with Hillary

    There is no doubt that sexism is alive and well in America. You may not want to hear it, but Ferraro is exactly right. "Iron my shirt" is every bit as bad as "shine my shoes". It is demeaning of the position Hillary has attained and all she has achieved.

    Just the fact that pointing it out is called "whining" gives great insight into the problem. If someone makes a racist remark, nobody refers to it as whining to point out that unacceptable behavior. But a woman complaining about a sexist remark is considered a bore...being a crybaby. She is "whining" and being a bad sport. Being too "women" are so prone to be.

    Think about it....belittling a woman by reminding her that she should be doing the laundry instead of running for the office of the presidency is just as offensive as inferring that a black man is not equal to a white man. Sexism is the male attempt to "keep a woman in her place" and it is every bit as offensive as any type of racism.

    Unfortunately, sexism is a more rampant form of bigotry and is still acceptable in our society–even among women.

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

    Oh, please. If anything, the media has treated her with kid gloves. If she were a man, she would have been out of the race as soon as the math was Huckabee, Romney, etc.

    May 20, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. Oh! The Irony

    One more thing to add.

    If he were losing, I could never picture Obama making a claim of racism as being the true reason.

    Clinton being a woman has nothing to do with my disgust for her.

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

    What negative press? All they have said is that she has no viable chance of getting a lead in delegates? I have never heard anything that could be perceived as sexist.

    I'm an Obama supporter, but would vote for Clinton if she wins the nomination. I'm really at a loss to those who are so anti Obama or anti Clinton. Why on earth would anybody want another bush-like person in the whitehouse.

    In any political race (primary or general) someone must lose and someone must win. Why all the sore losers?

    May 20, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  11. Ben MacLean

    It's highly obvious that Hillary is right. Sexism is so deeply rooted in our society that most of us don't even realize it's going on. But let me just point out one simple thing. Look at the pictures on this site of Hillary, and then look at the pictures of Barack. Enough said.

    May 20, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  12. Helena

    I'm a 48 year old white American woman that would never vote for Hillary Clinton. Even my 63 year old mother-in-law voted for Barack Obama. To all Clinton woman supporters you do not speak for me. I won't vote for a candidate just because she is a woman.

    OBAMA 08

    May 20, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  13. MillionMan, Washington, DC

    Sexisim charge is true. But wasn't it her husband who injected race into the campaign. To deny it now is dellusional!!!

    May 20, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  14. sue

    It's not A woman we object to, it's THAT woman we object to.

    May 20, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  15. Chyrel Wallace-Jackson, Chicago Illinois

    Unfortunately at this late stage of the game HRC must have any media coverage that her lackluster campaign can muster. It's a pity that it's come to stooping to the lowest possible level to receive media exposure. I will be so happy once the last primary election takes place. I've grown exhausted with these tactics. Earlier quoting Rove, heralding the Fox network, and now we're just back to plain, old blaming the press. Some on wake me when this is over yawn. When does it all stop?

    May 20, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |

    In the words of Keith Olberman.."Shut the hell up HRC!"

    May 20, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  17. wwf

    I am a white male. I support Obama over Hillary because I am willing to take a chance on change. I believe he can accomplish more than Hillary. Sexism has nothing to do with it. If Hillary should some how fair and square win the nomination, then I will vote for her. On another note. I still see many who say they will vote for McCain if Hillary does not win. Please, do not call yourself a democrat. A true democrat would vote for either candidate. I do not care for the idea that you would be more than willing to put up with higher food and gas prices, send more and more young men and women to Iraq to die. The sons and daughters, moms and dads, husbands and wifes, that you are willing to put in harms way because your candidate did not win boggles ones mind. Be real proud of your selfish intentions. Please register as a republican, the demcrates don't want you. Oh. Please go out and brag in public what you did and see the response you get. Talk is cheap. Back it up. Say it face to face in public instead of hidding on forums.

    May 20, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  18. Isaac

    Oh yes. Once again Hillary points her finger everywhere except at herself for why she is such a LOSER!

    May 20, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  19. Ian

    Because there's nothing–absolutely nothing–about Barack Obama that could cause anyone to discriminate against him for any reason. Ever.

    May 20, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  20. Al, Seattle

    Clinton's sex has nothing to do with why she will not be the democratic nominee for president. It has everything to do with her moral character. Too many people don't trust her, or her husband. They've left a bad taste in too many people's mouths. But for the democrats it doesn't make any difference because Obama will not be elected president anyway. McCain will be elected President.

    May 20, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  21. Ruby, Kansas

    Hillary is just a candidate gone from bad to worse. Sexism has nothing to do with it.

    May 20, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  22. Gabrielle, Lancaster SC

    To Hillary 08

    You should check your history. Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for president back in 1872. In 1972 Shirley Chisolm ran...please check your facts.

    May 20, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  23. Jim

    Newsflash: Hillary has lost this election. The good old fashioned way... Barack Obama won more delegates. The DNC rules doesn't give a rip about popular vote, or electability, or experience, or which states you've won, or who your husband is, or what type of pink pant suits you wear. Delegates. That's the name of the game. Obama won. Period. The end. CNN can keep on keepin' on with their coverage of this thing, but it's over. Over. Done. Election won by Obama. Now let's all, as Democrats who realize that McCain is simply another 4 years of Bush war waging, home foreclosure, tex cuts to the wealthy, and unconstitutional behavior, let's all vote for Obama in November. Let's turn the page on this NeoCon nightmare we've been living in for the past 7 years.

    May 20, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  24. Jeff, Salt Lake, Utah

    It's not because you're a woman that I won't vote for you. It's because I don't like you, or what you respresent. That has nothing to do with your gender, its your personality. I love women. I think a woman like Kathleen Sebelius would be better suited to run this country. at least she doesn't lie every day.

    May 20, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  25. Peter in Minneapolis

    Clintons Past, Obama Future, McCain like me, Hillary Bad, Obama Good, McCain Old, Apple Pie, Flag, No Flag,

    You idiots who call yourselves Republican adn Democrats are just plain stupid. I hope this country survives

    May 20, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
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