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. Adam from NY I understand the race-baiting. It was about evening out the playing field!

    May 20, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  2. 2 Cents

    boo hoo Clinton. How many death threats have you recevied for being a woman? There has been rasicm and sexism in the campaign. If Obama would have said a word about being called "boy" by a Kentucky Congressman, he "would be playing the race card." Give me a break.

    May 20, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  3. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    WAAAAAAAA WAAAAAAAAAA again with whiny old Hillary.... try for AGEISM too, you old HAG..... YOU STILL LOST THE NOMINATION....


    May 20, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. a turnip could beat mccain

    This is getting ridiculous. There is no doubt that sexism has been a major issue but to deny that racism has been an issue is pure garbage. I am desparately trying not to write her off as completely toxic to the process of trying to heal the DRC rift, but she is making it tough. I'm starting to believe that she would rather have McCain win so she can come back in 2012

    May 20, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. Kate

    "Racism has played no role in the campaign so far?" What a myopic moron Hillary is. And this is coming from a woman who's able to see both sexism and racism at play, not just one of them. In fact, racism is much more of a factor in WV according to the exit polls.

    May 20, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  6. Matt in FL

    Wow... wow... to say that racism and sexism should be treated equally, and then to say that sexism has played a role in the campaign while racism hasn't... wow.

    Sexism AND racism have both played a role in the campaign. From my estimation, the role has been about equal. But don't play up the sexism while diminishing the racism, Senator Clinton. It's disingenuous.

    May 20, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  7. aaron from minneapolis

    somebody shut this lady up before she destroys the party. I mean come on this is getting rediculous.

    May 20, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  8. Vickie, Maryland

    So typical. And right on "cue" just like every other "Super Tuesday" comes the "kitchen sink" duck! So now she's trying to paint Obama as "sexist". Give me a break. And to say there has been no racism in this race. What a jole. And the sad part is that there's actually going to be people out there that believe this crock of bull. It's a shame that Hilary has to sink so low and is willing to just to win. What a shame. What a whiner. And she's the one saying, "If you can't stand the heat get out the kitchen." What a hypocrit. I'm so ashamed of Hilary right now that it's not even funny. And I'm very clear on this, if Hilary wins the nomination through these tacktics or cause Obama to be wounded going into the general, there will be a riot in the streets. If you think the county is "elevated and involved" now, wait to see what happens if this nomination is swept out from under Obama by Hilary and her evilness. Mark my words, there will be a price to pay, and it wont just be the presidency in 2009

    May 20, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. Marc

    Good for you, Hillary. Don't let the Obama swift-boaters knock you out. Their campaign reeks of sexism. What's worse, though, are all the schoolgirl crushes many of his college-aged supporters seem to have on him, and support this man instead of backing a powerful woman. I guess Justin Timberlake should run in 2012.

    May 20, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  10. Dadedi

    There has been no racism in this campaign? Give me a break! Lots of expletives have been hurled at Obama but he has been quiet. She is complaining because of who she is. She played the race card right from the beginning and now she is complaining? Of course there are sexists out there and she has been subjected to some humiliating treatment. But to say that Obama has not endured the same shows just how out of touch Clinton is with the situation in this country. Racism has very much been part of the campaign.

    May 20, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  11. Michele

    Let the attacks begin 3.....2......1 GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 20, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  12. charles

    yea right she does not believe racism played a part because she is the one who played it. she must be losing her bearings fr sure.

    May 20, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  13. Judi in minnesota

    Hillary...quit lost...get over it. If you really want to show your leadership qualities, accept defeat with grace, support your team and be the best Senator you can be.

    May 20, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  14. Gregory H. Brooklyn New York

    Sen. Clinton, please pretty please. Lets stop the fighting. The fight is NOT about you, its about the people of America. We're hurting, its about US!! We're choosing UNITY over division. OBAMA '08 USA....

    May 20, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  15. "The Great Elephant Is Wounded"-Kareem From Hampton, Va

    Much as I love Hillary...she really needs to understand that I highly doubt that sexism was her problem! At the beginning of this primary season she was the presumptive nominee...the one person we were waiting for to save us from Bush! Then Barack came...a young up and coming Senator thats making waves across the country! Something Hillary could've done with ease by her name alone! She was on every news network from here to Al-jazeera! However, the upstart is teh upset to this whole thing! The underdog has out campaigned a person with "35 years experience with ease! Thats not sexism THATS THE STORY! Thats not bias...THAT'S THE STORY! She has so beautifully and eloquently taken the underdog role that we almost forgot who she was BEFORE this! Hillary cant blame anyone but her own campaign for this debacle! Pride is always before the matter if your male or female!!

    May 20, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  16. Dennis

    You're telling me your're getting all up in arms about a shirt that says 'iron my shirt'? I've paid attention to the race and I don't recall much if any sexist attitudes showing up. Sounds to me like sour grapes because the nomination that was once inevitable has all but slipped away. Can anyone give instances of sexism? And if so can you show a consistent amount of it throughout the campaign? And Ferraro saying Obama has been terribly sexist just isnt true either. He is under too much scrutiny and had he said or done something sexist we would've heard about it for days. Lets all get real about this.

    May 20, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  17. carmen

    A lot of women are sick and tired of her.

    May 20, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  18. Mary

    Hillary does NOT have the morals of a woman that I want anywhere near the White House.

    A LOT of women feel as I do. Hillary has given women a bad name.

    Hillary could not and would not win in November.

    May 20, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  19. working girl

    Enough already!!!! This woman makes me sick. This is after she has interjected race in this contest with every opportunity.

    Can't you just bow out gracefully?

    May 20, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  20. Ratgurl

    Yet another desperate attempt to find her place in the spotlight. Talk about pathetic....

    May 20, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  21. Elizabeth

    Speaking as a woman, I wouldn't vote for Hillary because I don't particularly approve of her negative attitude and other things. It has nothing to do with her also be female. Give me a break, I am smart enought to decide the person I like on her/his merits – not because one is female and one is male.

    May 20, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  22. Karen, TN

    What? Racism didn't play a part in this primary? That's bull. It has played a huge part on all sides of the color wheel. I live in Tennessee and I know of a LOT of people who voted for Hillary because they said they would never vote for a black man. Now that she's losing she wants to call everyone who doesn't vote for her a misogynist? She never stops blowing my mind in a bad way.

    May 20, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  23. DJ, LA, CA

    Ferraro and ultra-feminists are disillusional. Just because Obama called a female reporter "sweetie" that constitutes sexism?

    Regarding people in the audience with signs...obviously there are idiots out there. I'm willing to wager the audience member(s) in question are in reality Republicans looking to start trouble i.e. Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos.

    May 20, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  24. leezee

    save your sorry excuses and try to handle this loss like an ADULT

    May 20, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  25. erik

    I tend to agree with the fact that there does not seem to be the same coverage when someone makes a sexist comment as there is when there is a racisest comment. Wonder why that is??

    May 20, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
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