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. Karen in Fla

    I agree. I have been deeply offended by the sexist remarks – largely from the Obama camp and Obama himself. He should consider that this attitude – like calling a reporter "Sweetie" while blowing off her question – is not going to win over many of the women supporting Hillary should he end up the nominee.

    May 20, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. Lyz in MD

    I am not a Clinton supporter, buthave defended her since the 90s against some of the misogynistic attacks that have been made on her. That being said, she has done her worst to live down to those same attacks, and her claim that the media have ignored sexism is just plain inaccurate.

    The media, far from ignoring the sexism Clinton has faced, tend to couch all of their discussion of both democratic contenders' campaigns almost entirely in terms of identity politics.

    May 20, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. BDT

    How low will she go,enough is enough don't cry foul after the writtings on the wall.

    May 20, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  4. BS

    Go Away!

    May 20, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  5. Roger

    Playing the gender card.......

    May 20, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  6. Mark

    Well, if she says it, it must be true.

    May 20, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  7. vw

    You are exactly right.

    Please stay in the race and keep fighting for USA even though some in the Democratic Party dislike you. You are the only hope for USA in the 8 years come.

    Respect you and appreciate you from the bottom of our hearts.

    May 20, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  8. A Dub


    May 20, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  9. scott C

    If Obama had lost the nomination and gotten up on his soap box and said he didn't win because the country doesn't want a black guy to be president... That the media was being racist and that he lost because he is black, people would give him a really hard time.

    Clinton lost.

    She was the inevitable nominee, then the people just didn't give her enough votes to win.

    Of the two candidates Obama has gotten FAR worse press and for longer. Bitter-gate and Rev. Wright dominated the news cycle for WEEKS AND WEEKS.

    Don't be a sore loser.

    May 20, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  10. Karen in Fla

    Note – I agree with the ARTICLE, not Judi in Minnesota.

    May 20, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  11. Sadie

    While I'm sure it's true that Clinton has, unfortunately, been faced with sexism during her campaign, this seems like a desparate attempt to make people care once again about her deteriorating campaign. Sorry Hillary, we don't.

    May 20, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  12. Daphne

    I think that Geraldine Ferraro needs to stop injecting herself in the primary process. She has stated that she may not vote for Obama if his is the nominee, what kind of signal is that sending to the American people, as to how you should feel if you don't win? It says SORE LOSER to me. I have followed this primary since the beginning, and I haven't seen any sexism at all. I think that the Hillary campaign underestimated the Obama campaign, and that she got bad advice from her strategist, and others working in the Clinton camp. Yes I BELIEVE that Hillary Clinton is a fighter and she is very resilient, but the fact is that she can not overcome the math. It is what it is! The democratic party is divided enough without Geraldine Ferraro's ignorant comments. BY THE WAY, I am a true democrat if Barack doesn't win the nomination I will vote for Hillary.

    May 20, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  13. Democratic no matter who wins

    If racism handn't played a role in this election "The Deal" would have been closed long ago! Open your eyes not just halfway but completely.

    May 20, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  14. Uncle Sam

    Suppose Sen. McCain said that Sen. Obama was not fit to occupy the White House? The Obama campaign would have a meltdown.

    May 20, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  15. Linda Brewer


    May 20, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  16. Xavier, St. Louis, MO

    Please give it a rest and leave this race is some-kind-of dignity, for your own name sake. Please don't blame the media for your lost. You lost. Get over it already.
    Obama wasn't the one who tried to change the rules of the game nor did he try to put fear in voters or play the race card. Obama beat you fair-and-square.

    The moral of this race is: Good Always Win in the End

    May 20, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. Brian

    Seriously? She will try anything to get any sort of support. Sexism in this country exists but not racism. Therefore I have the most votes and my hard working white votes count as 2/3 of a people more than his.

    May 20, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  18. Sweetie

    The "iron my shirt" incident actually was reported on widely.

    Ferarro never gave a single example of something Obama did that was sexist. She is such a liar.

    Most reasonable people know that calling a woman "sweetie" is no more inappropriate than calling a man "buddy" or "pal"

    May 20, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  19. Anne

    Hilary there you go again moving the goal post. And as a woman I cannot understand how like lemmings other women are as they blindly vote and support clinton regardless of her lies. And I guess she and her supporters have said nothing negative or racist about Obama. Please..............I for one will nto be voting for a woman who lies, cheats, moves the goal post to try to get her way and pushes women into voting for her based on the fact shes a woman and wants us to.

    May 20, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  20. Rick

    Waaaa! Waaaaa! Waaaaaa!

    Beyond desparate. Any other candidate in her position would be long gone by now.

    May 20, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  21. jrzshor

    Sexism like racism is most effective and injurious when it is subtle. Overt sexism just gets you into trouble faster. Terms like "sweetie", "hon", "dear", etc. are demeaning and sexist.Though no offense is intended, damage is continued. When was the last time you heard a male politician described by the outfit they wore? Obama was wearing a wounderfully tailored pants-suit today (albeit without or without a flag lapel pin)!

    May 20, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  22. Robert Marquis

    Hillary is a girl and Obama is black.
    Id say the playing field is pretty even.

    She is just getting nervous.

    May 20, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  23. yardstylze

    "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 1media have been a constant detriment to her White House hopes."

    Wow...this woman is definitely smoking crack.

    Exit polls in the west virginia primaries showed that people voted based on race. 96% of the white is WV voted by race and 69% of those voted for hillary....but Hillary said that race has not played a role

    Obama having is office Vandalised and people calling black volunteers N&*^%'s and while volunteers N*%^$# lover has not played a role in this race.

    Having people say that they will not vote for Obama becuase of a flag pin, or because he called american's bitter or any other minute reason to avoid telling the truth that it's because of a black man...but according to HIllary, race is not a factor.

    Racism is and has been a bigger factor in this race than sexism. Hilarry lost the votes of both men and women not because she was a woman, but because she was devisive, liar, panderer and tried to play america as fools with a gas tax holiday. Memorial day is MONDAY and there is nothing being done about a gas tax holiday from her or from McCain.

    May 20, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  24. Betty, MO

    Seriously? Sexism has played a part but not racism? They can't truly believe that. What about Obama supporters being called "n", vandalism, bomb threats etc? Both sexism and racism have played a part in this primary process and to cry otherwise to further your own cause is SHAMEFUL and should not be getting press.

    May 20, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  25. Kevin, Indiana

    The irony of course is that Hillary can't see her own deep-rooted sexism.

    She's played the gender card this entire race, saying that people should vote for her, because she's a woman. That having a woman in the white house would be a major change.

    In other words, she's instructing voters to practice reverse discrimination against male candidates. It's no less offensive than if she said "vote for me, because I'm white."

    How, in a job interview, is a person's gender even relevant? She's a sexist, but just doesn't realize it.

    May 20, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
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