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. Pete

    Christine from dallas.......You don't know what in the world you are talking about Obama hasnt complained once yet we hear Hillary crying about sexism she ought to be ashamed. No one is telling her to get out cuz she is a woman. Its becuz she is finished.

    May 20, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  2. Sue

    As a woman, I find this comment from her both offensive and untrue.
    The only gender based conversation has been interjected by her.
    She has "played" the gender sexist card thru the whole campaign.
    And I listened to Ferraro this morning too...and she is dead wrong.
    Both examples that she cited were things that would have been said if the opponent was a man. And the "flicking" of the shoulder was for the press.

    May 20, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  3. Living in the USA

    Hiliary can't acknowledge that racisim is not in the campaign. Where has she been when she was jumping all over the Reverend Wright mess. She was having a grand ole time. Like Obama said she was in her element all happy and smiling. Even when she won Pennsylvania she was on a webcam mocking Obama to debate her. Hiliary you need the 3:00am phone call to tell you this campaign is about both but the racism side of it has played a much larger role.

    May 20, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. joe

    This will be her leatest lie. how about saying " I just lost for a better candidate"

    May 20, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  5. Debbie

    Clinton supporters who says they will vote for McCain instead of Obama – are childish idiots and doesn't deserve to vote.
    Women died so that we could vote!

    May 20, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  6. SusannePDX


    America may have overcame its racism but sexism is alive and kicking! Just look at all those old male pundits on TV (Matthews tops the list and he isn't even on Fox News).

    May 20, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  7. eric

    Now come on Hillary,

    You mean to say that we are sexist but not racist? You mean to say that the fact that Obama is black has had nothing to do with why older (more traditional) and white (rural) voters have voted for you and not him? Racism plays as much a role as sexism does, unless all of the candidates are of the identical sex, race, religious, (etc.) backgrounds then bias will always come into play. After all, why do so many women vote for you, is that not a bit sexist?

    May 20, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  8. Elsie

    Billary–It is not that we (I am a female also) don't like women-–WE DON'T LIKE YOU!!!! You raised the female issue with all your 'history making' talk and now you blame your comeuppance on the gender issue.

    Go home and try baking cookies.

    May 20, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. Hillary

    Why do all you mean stupid people not like me? Why are the comment's about me so negative? I want to be the President! I want to be the President right now!!!

    May 20, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  10. Anita - AZ

    There's no negative press. The truth is that the numbers for Clinton are not adding up for her to win the nomination. It's negative for her supporters and her campaign and it sucks and hurts but it's the truth. A lot of people have an issue with hearing the truth but the truth shall set you free. Exceptance is needed now from her and her campaign and not denial and negative comments towards the press and Obama supporters. The press is doing their job.

    Obama '08

    May 20, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. Mike

    Obama isn't beating her by being sexist. Obama is beating her by being a better candidate. You can't trump up all the people who didn't vote for her because she's a woman while patting yourself on the back for winning the rural uneducated white vote who didn't want to vote Obama because he's black.

    Before claiming sexism is working against her, ask yourself what male candidate would get the sympathy vote for crying? Do people really think McCain is better than Obama? You would rather support a party that has continually worked to suppress women?

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

    Its nice to know that Hilary and pull out teh sexist card...just about any card when it comes to pushign her bs.

    May 20, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. anne-marie

    yes, she is so right. nobody has raised the issue on how the media has been so sexist towards Hillary. so many men in this country vote for Obama, just because they do not want to see a woman president. that is such a shame.

    May 20, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  14. Brian from Fort Mill, S.C.

    The fat lady can't sing anymore. She has laryngitis! 😦

    May 20, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  15. RT

    Gee Hillary. I guess its everyone else's fault that you ran a poor, negative campaign with sczhizophrenic messaging that changed depending on who you were pandering to. Give me a break. This campaign has been all about RACE. This is just a poor excuse for why you are not winning. She is now playing the SEX card to rile up female voters. This coming from the woman who's campaign has repeatedly played the race card!! I can't WAIT until this is over!

    May 20, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  16. S Greene

    Hillary...stop being a sore looser! I can not believe that you do not think that racism has not played a part in this primary. Are you blind? Its comments like these, that do not make me feel bad for changing my vote to Obama BEFORE the Virgina primary.

    May 20, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  17. be for real

    Yes sexism & racism is alive,
    when Obama loses by 40 points does he just keeps fighting
    NO one says a word when Hillary always says....women let's make history.
    NO one says a thing when she holds women only that sexism?

    May 20, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  18. Kathy, from NJ

    is this the way you raise the white flag, Mrs. Clinton?... shame on you, you are a loser, the press has nothing to do with it..... what happens is you irradiate hate campaign, so this is what you get when you do that. Go for change, go for hope, go for Obama, even Mc Cain has better speech than you. You said you can't win election by making nice speech, well, guess what?... you have got so many enemies because of your language, I used to like you, but what you doing is too much to ingest. Go away you and your cheater hubby.

    May 20, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  19. Bob

    How pathetic! Can you imagine what the press would have done to any man who would have said or done the things she has in this campaign? If anything, the press (especially CNN) has been bending over backwards to avoid criticizing her. Are these comments supposed to guilt people into voting for her? Hillary, get some therapy. The sooner the better.

    May 20, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  20. Lynda

    When Obama can call a reporter "sweetie" and people on the blogs defend it as no big deal, you know people are out of touch with sexism, seeingthis as acceptable is a problem. Would it be seen as acceptable if Clinton had called a black man an affectionate name, just a minute "brother", I'll answer your question in a minute.....

    May 20, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  21. Joe from PA

    I call shenanigans

    May 20, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  22. AC

    Hey Hill, How does it feel to be treated like a Republican?

    May 20, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  23. Madeline

    I agree that media and the many in the general population have treated Hillary as someone to be ridiculed, scorned, laughed at, and in general, despised – and yes, because she's a woman. The undercurrent of sexism in American culture and way of life is simply amazing.
    Mr. Obama's candidacy has been successful because a) he is charismatic and inspirational (albeit short on details of what he will actually as president past the "change" mantra) and b) he's a black MAN. Imagine a black woman named Baracka Obama, politically unknown senator from IL, a mother with two little girls at home, running as he is for POTUS. That campaign would have gone to dust faster than one could say "change."

    I would have never imagined this, but if Hillary is not on the Presidential ticket in November, the ultra liberal me will vote for McCain. I cannot stand McCain, but at least he's not spewing propaganda wrapped up in charming promises of change like Obama does.

    May 20, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    What a ridicules statement by her, again.

    I was watching CNN today, they were talking to voters in Kentucky. They asked him what we would say to Obama, since he was a Hillary supporter. He goes and says that Obama should stop being black. And that he would vote for a white person, being McCain if Obama wins the primary.

    Hillary wins these states and rural counties in all the states, because they are conservative leaning, racists, and don't want to see a black man, regardless of his credentials in office.

    May 20, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  25. Phil in KC

    Wah, wah, wah. What else can Hillary find to cry about? Wasn't it her husband who recently said, if you can't stand the fight, get out of the race?
    First, she says she supports the DNC rules, then cries because FL and MI were stripped of their delegates. Then she says whoever has the most delegates should win and changes her mind when she sees that will not happen for her. After that, she says whoever gets the most states should win, then changes her mind when she sees that won't happen either. Now she says it should be whoever gets the most popular vote – but only if you count FL and MI and DON'T count caucus states. So it's OK to disenfranchise all the voters who came out on caucus nights to cast their votes, but not the voters who voted in an illegal election? On top of everything,
    She has totally lost my respect. If she somehow manages to wrangle the nomination away from Obama, I swear I'll vote for Nader or some other 3rd Party candidate.

    May 20, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
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