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. Dietrich from Houston

    So, is this another code to CNN and the MSM to start some new Obama smear agenda? Just like last time the minute Clinton whined the press was being unfair they came to her like metal to a magnet. It's the same old stuff just under a new veil, this time I'd like to see the press finally lay the smack down on this new Clinton/Ferraro tactice. You can see it a mile away!!!

    May 20, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  2. DMD

    Funny she doesn't give examples, just grasps at the only remaining straws she has. What she needs is the Iraqi Information Minister as her spokesman.

    May 20, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  3. Chris from NC

    And this little piggy whined all the way home

    May 20, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  4. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    Hillary, Hillary, Hillary. Your gender has helped you at least as much as it has hurt you. You are not losing because of your gender or any gender bias that may be out there. You are losing because you didn't have the right message at the beginning of this campaign and have been unable to put a cohesive campaign together throughout.

    May 20, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  5. AFTX

    Is she serious? She's crying about being a woman, yet won't admit race plays any role in this contest? I personally don't want a president that isn't going to see both sides of the issues.

    May 20, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  6. David

    As someone who went house to house in PA to register voters for OBAMA, I noted that nearly 5-8% of the voters stated clearly that they would: "NEVER VOTE FOR A BLACK," man. And these were the ones that were being honest. I would patently suggest that racism and sexism are alive and well and that the problem is not only sexism.

    May 20, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  7. Forrest B.

    I'm an Obama supporter, and I resent it when people go on comment boards like this and suggest that the reason I support Obama is because I'm sexist, which happens A LOT.

    One of the reasons I resent it, besides the fact that it simply isn't true, is that it pulls attention away from the fact that there really have been a lot of unpardonable, misogynist attacks on Clinton and her female supporters. And they're right to be upset about it.

    Rather than wasting our time into a shouting match over whether there's more sexism or racism out there and who's been more victimized (come on, they're both real and they're both damaging), let's try get this nonsense OUT of politics: sexism, racism, ageism (in both directions), all of it!

    May 20, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  8. Tim

    Senator Clinton you are consistently trying to lay blame on everyone and everything but your poorly run campaign. To put it in sports terms, you were simply outplayed. You, nor your team were prepared for this competition and it showed. You have no idea how many people supported you till you chose to take a distasteful path during this primary season. My wife and I both thought very highly of you and had you simply ran a non negative campaign and stayed on the issues, you would have gotten our votes. But time and time again, you have showed that you will do anything or say anything to get elected. Now that the polls show that the base that you have claimed would never support Obama show that to be false, you fall on the last card you have to play and that is the Gender card. It is disgusting and so far beneath what is right. First you have Ferraro lead in and then you follow with this garbage. The Democrats had two great candidates and one has prevailed. just swallow your pride and admit that you fought hard, but came up short. A true winner is know for nor how well he or she wins, but how he or she handles a loss. This is over. How you exit (good or bad) is entirely up to you. Time to unite the party. Please stop trying to mislead the voters to think this was stolen from you. Simply put, you lost.
    Obama 08!!!

    May 20, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  9. Tom in California

    First, the race card. Second, the sex card. What's next?

    Anyone have a complete list?

    May 20, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  10. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    You see every time I think she would be a good vp she goes off the deep end!

    May 20, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. sharon


    May 20, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  12. Rick

    Hillary doesn't believe racism has played a role in the election, but sexism has? Amazing! I'm not denying some people may be sexist.

    But for Hillary to openly proclaim that white voters prefer her, yet say that racism has played no role in the campaign, is pretty unbelieveable. She has an amazing capacity to spin facts. Maybe President Obama can hire her as his Presidential Press Secretary.

    May 20, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  13. lil

    Sorry to tell you sen Clinton but racism has played a great part in your campaign. first by your husband in SC, then by you in WV and Kentucky You have played the race card quite a bit.

    Do you ever admit to anything.

    May 20, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  14. Lucious

    Wow, Now this sounds desperate.....We've been in this primary season for 5 months, and this is the first time I've heard anybody cry sexism....This is a sad and harmful to the democratic party, Hillary and Obama

    May 20, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. Brian

    I'm sorry, but much like evrything else in life. You can not make a general statement that is reflective of few and apply it to the many. While it is unfortunate there are a few out there that may have made "sexist" remarks or those taken as such. It is wrong for Mrs. Clinton or anyone for that matter to inject that the views of a couple of individuals at rallys, stops or town halls represent the many.

    MRs. Clinton trails in this race simply because she ran into an individual who's aura, persona and message has affected many more than hers has. While race, sexism and political party may influence some. The majority of people have made their choice based on their true belief in a candidate and for no other reason but that.

    May 20, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. jeanise

    you want to play whatever card you can you have been so detrimental to your own campaighn trying to figure what works when you decide to run you should have been prepared for all that went on none of the dirty stuff about you and your aquaintences came out none of the manipulation and trechery you have participated in and you cry about the media you and your campaign like fox because it did your dirty work on barack and sean hannity really thinks he did that on his own poor thing any way we are going all the way i hope barack maintains his character and keeps the faith and keeps his head up i think him and his wife are good people and they have gotten in a den of lions but they are keeping pace the media was yours until he beat you fair and square you can not handle fair and square only dirt so sad a woman who has everything can not find any peace unless she's being victimized you would never be a victim not even when bill was cheating you knew women always know what we do with the information now that is another story you were ambitious and you probably love bill i won't take that he looks like a lovable guy but in my world he would have to go that's me anyway i know you are not finish you are still waiting for something to happen i wonder what is up your sleeve and so many women believe in you and there is not an honest bone in that body maybe at one time you were caring but those days are gone power and greed have taken over

    May 20, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. HP Boston

    We know it Hillary and we are seething.
    We will never vote for BO.
    Women will support you and never,ever, will we vote for OBAMA.
    We will never vote for BO.
    It has been the worst sexism Ever.
    We will never vote for BO.
    Obama is the worst thing that ever happened to America.
    We will never vote for BO.
    He has divided and spewed hate and hostility evrywhere.
    He and his Wright guy and hate filled wife are despicable.

    May 20, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. Skeeve

    Examples, please, examples. Please, be specific Ms. Clinton. As for Ferraro and her argument about Obama being an African- American, this is probably true, but does she realize that the same argument works for Ms Clinton as well... that she is where she is because she is a woman, or a wife of the former president.
    Let's be serious, I don't doubt Senator Clinton abilities but to say that her being a president's wife did not help would be rather naive and hypocritical at best. Different people have different advantages ...

    May 20, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  19. Rus in St. Paul, MN

    Ok, I'll give it to her that sexism is out there, but that probably played about 1% of hurting her white house hopes.

    The other 99% is a mismanaged campaign, no plan in place after Super Tuesday, ignoring caucus states before and after Super Tuesday, badly handled finances building up a huge campaign debt (speaking of which, aren't those figures due out today?).

    Sexism is definately out there, but the only people that hurt the Clinton presidency are in the Clinton campaign. She should have won this easily and blew it because she was not prepared for the full election cycle. It doesn't matter if you don't like caucus states, they're a major part of this primary cycle, you can't choose to ignore them.

    None of the short comings of her campaign revolved around sexism at all. Obama had his gaffe's anyone would expect a normal campaign, Clinton did not have the preperation to take advantage of them though. That's her fault, and hers only.

    May 20, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  20. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    There are plenty of women who voted for Clinton JUST BECAUSE Clinton is a woman.

    That is sexist as well.

    Works both ways since there are 2 sexes.

    May 20, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  21. Tony Z- MD

    Sounds like a whiner, but she is confused. Maybe Ferraro slipped her something. Racism and sexism has played a part during primary season, but that is due to the candidates. There are things we just need to improve.

    May 20, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  22. Bill

    Every 25 minutes she sites a different reason she isn't winning. Oh well. Women should be outraged that the first woman to have a shot at the White House constantly wants to change the rules for the race that she had agreed upon. I understand that all women aren't like that, I can think of only one of my sisters that behaves similarly. Hopefully the next woman to run for that office has some grace in both victory and defeat.

    May 20, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  23. bvcfgtr

    Ms. Ferraro, or anyone else out there:

    Name one instance in which Obama has acted "terribly sexist". And don't say calling someone "sweetie". While some, but not all, might consider this term of endearment to be mildly sexist, it isn't "terribly sexist".

    Hillary supporters who say they won't vote for Obama? I'm waiting...

    May 20, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  24. Tom

    regardless of Hillary Clinton, there is a pervasive attitude that sexism is less offensive than racism....I like Obama, but she has a very good point.

    May 20, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  25. Kimberly, Alabama

    I am a woman and I wish Geraldine Feraro would go jump in a lake with her false claims that Barack Obama has been sexist towards Hillary. Liar, Liar, pants on fire! Noone likes a sore loser! I have lost all respect for Feraro.

    May 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
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