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. Hillary 08

    1. Hillary is the 1st woman ever to run for President. She is tough as nails and I am so proud to have lived in a generation that not only is a woman running, but I believe the BEST candidate running!
    2. Florida and Michigan...when DNC gets off their butts and count these two, we will win!
    3. Caucus's are flaud and they won't be in the General. This would be a BIG advantage to Hillary and that is one of the reasons she will legitamately beat John McCain.
    4. Delegates needed are 2210, not 2025, like Obama's people would like us to believe.
    5. Republicans will have to vote for their candidate in the General, not switch over to Obama like they did in the Primary.

    Hillary will win and she is the BEST choice for America

    May 20, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  2. Dave

    When has Obama been a sexist?

    Hillary plays the race card and the gender card. You NEVER hear Obama say how great it would be for a black man to be president but Hillary often mentions how important it would be for a woman to be president.

    The "iron my shirt" guy was on the news and it was pathetic. And, the media covered it as such.

    The most sexist thing in this whole primary was a FEMALE radio host using UNEXCEPTABLE language when discribing how awful Ferraro was acting...and Ferraro was making ridiculous statements earlier in the primary.


    May 20, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  3. Swiss in Canada

    Clinton is wrong. The Americans would like to vote for a woman. Just not for THAT woman.

    May 20, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  4. Griff

    They're trying to seperate the Women from the Men... They should seperate the Boy (Obama), from the rest...

    May 20, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  5. Greg, Detroit MI

    Dumb, just dumb comments. No racism? Just sexism? Are you kidding me? I know you're a female Hillary, but let's not pander to voters and cry foul. Most people didn't like you because of your personality, not because you are a female. Yes there was sexist comments, but I saw far less of that than racism in this race. Both are horrible, but come on. Let's get real. You need to start blaming yourself, or at least taking responsibilities for losing the nomination.

    Basically I'm saying, your bad judgments and personality far out weighed the sexism you went through in this campaign. Stop pushing off the blame and be the person you need to be to help lead the country.

    May 20, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  6. T L

    I am a man, and I agree with her. Baking cookies, ironing shirt, all kind of sexist messages. It is funny that Obama himself calls these distractions when against him. I used to like Obama, now there is no way I will vote for him. Not only because of his tactics, but also because his so-called policy has no substance.

    May 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  7. James

    What now should go ahead and endorse Obama then request for the VP spot if you want.

    May 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  8. Jer-bob

    If you can't stand the heat...get out of the kitchen

    May 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  9. Erik S.

    It's only sexism if she dosent win.

    May 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  10. Lori - Austin, TX

    I'm sick of this sexist crap. This is talk from a generation that doesn't see much ground it has broken for the younger generation. They are making a much bigger issue of something that isn't that big of an issue anymore. They would be lost if the issue were solved. As a woman, and a woman who has been in the workplace (in an industry dominated by men), I am disgusted by the behavior of these women. I am outraged by Ferraro and Clinton for portraying things like this. They are looking for excuses. Clinton is losing because she mismanaged her campaign and did not run a good campaign. It is not because of the media, she is losing because of herself. As a woman, I wanted to vote for her but found I could not. She doesn't have what I want in a leader for this country. I will not vote for her just because she is a woman. Clinton and Ferraro are setting women back, not bringing them forward. I'm ashamed of both of them.

    May 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  11. Beverley

    The nerve this woman has!

    May 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  12. RB - Atlanta, GA

    Why is this woman (Ferraro) stil making waves. You know, Hillary was actualy turning a corner on her methods to try and win a nomination but this has taken it to an all time low. Both sides have experienced backlash from ignorant opposition. It is not like CNN reported every time someone threatened the Obama campaaign about him being black.

    This has really taken things to a all time low for Hilary. To try and play this card at this time only speaks to how much of a sore looser and I emphasize the word LOOSER she is.

    Poor last ditched effort to try and win a nomination and only fuel the fire to try and divide the party. I guess hell hath no rath like a womans scorn only for her to try and screw Obama out of the election only for her to stand back up again to try and tell the public "I told you so".

    I guess after Obama finishes his two terms, there will be no hope for Hilary in the future. This all goes on record you Clinton campaign A.K.A IDIOTS!

    May 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  13. Not sleeping at the switch

    If Obama was crying like this about the Race issues that have CLEARLY had a play in this cycle people would be OUTRAGED!!! The Clintons have lost all respect from us and I doubt they even respect themselves anymore.

    May 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  14. mollygonz

    Give me a break Hillary! So now if your chance at being president fails it's because of sexism...this will be the excuse that you use, I can see it now. Oh's not because of the failed campaign that you ran..or the mudslinging or the lies that you can't be that. You think Obama has had it any easier? Please..there are people who won't vote for him because of the color of his skin so he has had just a hard of time if not harder than you because he doesn't have a famous name to catapult him to the top. Excuses are like..well, let's just say that everyone has one.

    May 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  15. Yasriel

    What is Clinton up to? Is she campaigning for the VP position by inferring sexism, so that at the end of the day she'll be brought in to help win the women vote?
    Stop digging HRC.

    May 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  16. Juliemn

    the press like the bloggers are being paid to do the great dictators talks and morals walk !!!!!!!!

    May 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  17. Darren M.

    There's a lot of "ISM's out there this political season. Let's put all the ism's to bed and get on with the process...

    May 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  18. joeparadis

    I could not agree more with Hillary. It is not important that she get the nomination. It is important that she speak out not only about sexism but the malicious and petty behavior of the press who is virtually accountable to no one.

    May 20, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  19. Nicosia, Petersburg,Va

    This coming from the woman that cried when she was against the wall.
    Please Hillary first you say that you can play with big boys and then you say voters have been sexist. Right. Your delusions need to be treated ASAP.

    I am a woman and darlin you asked for it all.

    May 20, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  20. jim t

    stop your whining, theres bigger fish to fry like the economy – iraq(your issue that you voted yes for)

    May 20, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  21. Alobama

    this is foolishness, the only reason billary is playing the sexist card is because she has lost. I swear this woman went from the inevitable nominee to whining about an issue that is largely nonexistent! Go HOME!!!

    May 20, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  22. Amber

    No, no, no, NO Hillary! You were doing so well, focusing on the issues! Now I'm disappointed again. Please, for the sake of the women you claim to be fighting for, save the gender equality fight for another arena – this is the wrong time, wrong place.

    May 20, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  23. Omentum

    Well... Carville said you had cajones.

    May 20, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  24. McCain the clueless

    OH BROTHER !!!

    Here we go again.

    Obama 08'/12'

    May 20, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  25. jack's parable

    the clintonians frequently say that remarks such as "hillary wouldn't be where she is but for being married to bill" are sexist and off limits – the truth is she made it an issue my claiming a tremendous superiority in experience – which in her career has mostly been as "first lady" – she specifically claims her "first-ladyship" as a major part of her resume – furthermore she has deliberately tried to capitolize on bill's resume and popularity with some groups by allowing the probability that bill would have a role in her administration beyond "first-husband/gentlemanship" – so these statements are relevant and fair game and TRUE (and in NO way sexist as the argument would apply equally to a man in her position).


    May 20, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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