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. Jason

    It's like the criminal that fires his gun six times, runs out of bullets, then, in desperation, throws his emptied gun at whoever he was shooting at.

    What else? Seriously? What else can she grasp at?

    Please, someone... anyone... tell me something sexist that has seriously affected this campaign.

    May 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  2. Adam from Omaha, NE

    Oh please Hillary!

    Racism didn't effect Obama, but sexism effected you?

    Both Clinton and Obama had to overcome so much and for her to pull this card out of no where made me lose a little respect for her.

    Hillary is desperate and I can tell it's only going to get worse.

    May 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  3. Ernesto Lopez

    Even women favor Obama so, are women being sexist?

    May 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  4. Patman

    The only surprise is that it took this long for Queen Hillary to bring this up. Isn't this the whisky slinging, gun toting tough mama who told Obama to toughen up? Now she's crying "They're pickin on me cause I'm a lady!" Give it up Hillary, YOU'RE GONNA LOSE!

    May 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  5. JoJo

    I am a black woman who has felt racism in this campaign however I have not felt sexism. I think it is sexist to vote for a woman just because she is a woman and condemn any woman or organization that will do otherwise. It is even worse to vote for McCain who will appoint judges that will more than likely overturn some of women's rights just to ruin the chances of that candidate who won fairly. THINK women (and men as well) before you cast your vote out of spite, this election is WAY too serious to be acting like spoiled children.

    May 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  6. Jeff D, South Bend, IN


    People don't like you because you are a backstabbing, lying, deceitful, manipulative, divisive, and power hungry politician. 56% of the country thinks you are an untrustworthy liar. This is just a desperate attempt to drum up a story. Pathetic.

    It has little to do with the fact that you are a woman, and everything to do with the person you are.

    May 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  7. unions are not stupid

    You know I honestly thought she would take the high road for once but i see she only lives in the gutter! Most of the media will simply take this with a grain of salt she and her supporters said the media was bias in negative reporting then fact found out it was completely false in fact it was 2 to 1 negative reporting about Obama not Clinton in the primary season. now they are trying this even weaker claim of sexism the Clinton campaign needs to buy a new dictionary.

    Go Obama 08 Yes We Can

    May 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  8. Martie -- Los Angeles, CA

    Once again she is delusional. Racism was a factor that she helped play up, and her version of being a woman is actually to be a testosterone-laced "man," which is not part of my feminist sensibilities. There are women's ways of leading, but she exemplifies none of them. The fact that she is a woman who is losing does not justify cries of "sexism." It was her approach to her campaign that showed her to be both mean-spirited and incompetent.

    May 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  9. Pimacan

    So, let me get this straight. She and Bill and their supporters bring up race on multiple occasions, but there is no racism in the campaign. Her gender is never mentioned, but the media is sexist. It's this kind of irrational arguement that makes me conclude I could never vote for her.

    May 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  10. TunnelVision

    MORE WHINING??? why doesn't she curse God for not making her a man? She could never be a Margaret Thatcher, Benazir Bhutto or Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, she makes women look WEAK. Fortunately she will never be President.

    May 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  11. wthwah

    The issue isn't sexism. People are bashing her because of who she is, not because she's a woman.

    As she keeps talking, whinning, and fighting to steal this election from the voters, she is peeling away layers of her cover, exposing the true self of who she is.

    She has destroyed not only her own legacy, but that of President Clinton also. Shame on her, and those who continue to keep fighting for her. She has proven herself to be as divisive and hurtful as "W", but that would be sexist to say right.

    May 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  12. Lucy Windy Chicago, IL

    It has nothing to do with sexism. People just don't trust her. This is a typical "red herring." I am female and would like to see a woman President, but I want a president that I can trust and that tells the truth.

    May 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  13. AJ, IL

    Why does the MSM give Ferraro a high platform to speak from? She is best known as the only female Vice Presidential candidate to represent a major American political party. She didn't run for President in 1984. She was selected by the nominee as VP to garner the woman vote.

    Ferraro has not been an elected official since 1985. And now towards the end of Hillary's presidential campaign, Ferraro, Hillary and Bill want to blame the media for "sexism" in America.

    Obama has never camplained about "racism" being the cause of why he is the front-runner. He has acknowledged it and work that needs to be done to overcome it, but has never used it like a "crutch" like the Hillary has now with sexism:"

    Obama in 08!

    May 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  14. barbara

    As a boomer-aged caucasian female, I know sexism when I see it. Hillary has in fact exploited her gender when it served her purposes, and exploited race when she thought that would work to her advantage. I've watched the media's handling of the primary campaign closely, and the Clintons have consistently been given preferential treatment over Senator Obama. Playing the gender card is sexist in itself.

    I would love to see a woman in the White House, but Hillary has morphed into Karl Rove and isn't the kind of candidate I could vote for. To vote for her simply because she's female is another variation of sexism.

    May 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  15. David, Newport OR

    the only core population that still is 100% on her you really want to play this card Hillary? Yesterday, it was citing Rove. Today it is this. Is this presidential behavior?

    May 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  16. Dustin

    Blah. The new America. If you lose a fair fight, simply twist the press into thinking that it wasn't fair, get your most ardent and ignorant supporters to hold protests and hope you can steal an election. Gotta love Democracy.

    May 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |

    WOW! Pot calling the kettle black? Her campaign has made racist remarks this entire campaign. Now she's whining about sexism??? This is ridiculous.

    May 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  18. Bart

    "Ferraro pointed to New Hampshire".
    New Hampshire??? When was it? Last year? If this is the only example that Ferraro has, then it is not so bad...
    At least the guy did not have a monkey eating banana on it... female monkey that is...

    May 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  19. Chris

    Can she offer specifics of this so-called sexist behavior? Sex has not been apart of this race at all. Let's not forget that she was the front-runner and she beat out several other male presidential hopefuls in the beginning of this primary election.

    May 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  20. R. Brown

    Hillary is TOAST and so is her political career.

    We will NOT be sending her back to the senate. NYS will kick her out and send her back to her wet hell. She caused nothing but trouble with her fuzzy lying math and her sexist husband who prefers to have sex in the oval office then lie to the American people then touch young girls on the campaign trail then sperm up DANNY WILLIAMS then ship his mom overseas to keep her quiet. There’s not another sexist man on this earth than Bill 'whip it out' 'racist' Clinton.

    May 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  21. Venus

    She can't attack Obama any more so she goes after the media!

    Ha,ha,ha,ha Go Obama!

    Hillary is suppose to be Rocky and if you can't stand the heat – get out of the kitchen!

    I really love her remark regarding the 75,000 that attended the Portland Oregon rally – where Hillary replied – that if Obama had time to spend talking with that many people – then he could have had a debate with her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love it!

    May 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. Sandy from Ohio

    Hillary has just about run out things to blame her lost on I'm so tired of her whining She needs to take her defect and either get out the party or join in and lets put a Democrat in the white house for the good of all the people There is always another day to fight it is not now

    May 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  23. Roger Cyr

    Misleading math, an underhanded jab, a deceptive reframing of party rules, unfair journalism, using the racist card and now sexism. What's next. Many women have been elected to run great countries like India and Great Britain, but were elected because they were very strong individuals and they did not have to use this type of garbage to get elected. I believe the sniper attack in Bosnia had a profound effect on her. Very sad indeed.

    May 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  24. jbrowne

    i did not notice a SINGLE example of the alleged sexism. I can categorically say that i have NO issue with a woman president, but i have huge issues with THIS woman as president. She is dishonest, deceptive and willing to play fast and loose with the rules to get what she wants. Unlike Hillary, i WILL give examples; refusing to give concession speeches when she is beaten, insistence on seating delegates that she agreed could not be seated because she was the only person on the ballot. It is NOT about Hillary's gender. It is about Hillary.

    May 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  25. working girl

    When Obama supporters are confronted with pre-civil war mentalities and Pre-civil rights-ammendment attitudes on the campaign trail, Senator Obama reamins low-key about the whole thing, thanks his supporters and tells them that these people do not represent the general feeling in America.

    When no one on Clinton's campaign volunteer staff complains about unjust sexist treatment, she decries injustice to the whole world!!! calls press conferences/newspapers/organizes rallies and blames the sexist media for being biased!

    Can we say desperate?

    May 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
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