May 30th, 2008
10:20 AM ET
15 years ago

Ferraro: Reagan Dems find Obama campaign 'frightening'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Ferraro has been outspoken on race and gender issues during the primary season."] (CNN) - Geraldine Ferraro – who sparked controversy earlier this year with her comment that Barack Obama was only a viable presidential candidate because he was black – wrote in an op-ed published Friday that the Illinois senator’s campaign and the media may be responsible for “the effects of racism and sexism on the campaign [which] have resulted in a split within the Democratic Party that will not be easy to heal before election day.”

“Perhaps it's because neither the Barack Obama campaign nor the media seem to understand what is at the heart of the anger on the part of women who feel that Hillary Clinton was treated unfairly because she is a woman or what is fueling the concern of Reagan Democrats for whom sexism isn't an issue, but reverse racism is,” the former Democratic vice presidential candidate wrote in the Boston Globe Friday.

Reagan Democrats feel they have been mistreated during the campaign season, she writes, and since her March resignation from the Clinton campaign have repeatedly told her that “If you're white you can't open your mouth without being accused of being racist...”

“They see Obama's playing the race card throughout the campaign and no one calling him for it as frightening. They're not upset with Obama because he's black; they're upset because they don't expect to be treated fairly because they're white,” writes the former New York congresswoman. “It's not racism that is driving them, it's racial resentment. And that is enforced because they don't believe he understands them and their problems. That when he said in South Carolina after his victory ‘Our Time Has Come’ they believe he is telling them that their time has passed.”

Ferraro resigned from a post on the Clinton campaign’s finance committee following a media firestorm over her remarks about sexism and race.

“The reaction to the questions being raised has been not to listen to the message and try to find out how to deal with the problem, but rather to denigrate the messenger,” she wrote Friday. “Sore loser, petty, silly, vengeful are words that have dominated the headlines. But scolding and name calling don't resolve disputes.

“The truth is that tens of thousands of women have watched how Clinton has been treated and are not happy. We feel that if society can allow sexism to impact a woman's candidacy to deny her the presidency, it sends a direct signal that sexism is OK in all of society.”

She called on Harvard University’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy to conduct a study, which she and other women would fund if necessary, to explore whether either of the Democratic candidates’ campaigns engaged in sexism or racism; whether Clinton was treated unfairly by the media; and “whether certain members of the media crossed an ethical line when they changed the definition of journalist from reporter and commentator to strategist and promoter of a candidate. And if they did to suggest ethical guidelines which the industry might adopt.”

“That sexism impacted Clinton's campaign, I have no doubt. Did she lose a close election because of sexism? I don't know. But I do know that it will never happen again as long as women are willing to stand up and make sure that it is just a one-time bad experience.”

soundoff (442 Responses)
  1. Rob

    This divisive angle that Hillary and her ardent supporters have taken is shameless. In essence they're accusing the Obama supporters (and the media) of the same bigotry that they're spewing. So, there is a double standard for racism, but not for sexism? Come on. Bitter, petty? Yes I agree with those... and the wedge that's being driven into the campaign is being created by these bitter women. The fact that they liken the current scenario in Florida and Michigan to disenfranchisement is beyond insulting. This is a primary, not a general election. The fact that she drags Reagan dems into it shows that she's intent to show she's not bitter. Sorry that Hillary and her supporters felt entitled to the nomination – since the same media handed it to her a year ago, but she's the most polarizing figure in politics and many people dislike her for her arrogance and selfishness. Some of what the republicans said about the Clintons is actually true.

    May 30, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  2. David, Silver Spring, MD

    I am absolutely befuddled by this woman.

    Geraldine Ferraro is turning out to be the Frankenstein's (Clinton's) monster of this campaign. She is taking every innuendo that Clinton has put out there to promote her candidacy–from Obama is the candidate of black people, to Obama and the media are against women–and is shouting it on public streets.

    This is what happens when politicians like Hillary Clinton and her camp think it's fair game to say anything to score points on the Sunday morning talk shows–some people take those words as true, and act on them.

    Geraldine Ferraro scares me. And it was Hillary Clinton who brought her to life.

    May 30, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. Grady in Portland, OR

    "The effects of racism and sexism on the campaign [which] have resulted in a split within the Democratic Party that will not be easy to heal before election day.”

    Thank you, Geraldine, for fueling both, and widening the divide. Now please sit down and be quiet.

    May 30, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  4. Scott

    Why is it that she (Ferarro) and Bill are the only ones who ever seem to bring up race as an issue? Are they trying to do Hillary's work for her by making it an issue?

    May 30, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  5. bigben

    Obama you are dirt!

    May 30, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  6. "The Great Elephant Is Wounded"-Kareem From Hampton, Va

    Hey all of you Clinton supporters that are hoping for a breakthrough for Hillary! Your friend Geraldine just killed it! Obama has not used the race card! Its surrogates like Ferraro using the race card in the name of the candidates. Hillary has not receive sexually biased treatment! She was treated like anyone WITH MORE EXPERIENCE! The incumbents are always scrutinized more MAINLY because in their tenure they have more to scrutinize! Sounds to me you wanted Hillary to have SPECIAL treatment and that to me is sexism! DUH!!! By the way, isnt "Reagan Democrat" an oxymoron?

    May 30, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |


    May 30, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. Megan

    You're just mad because your Mom wanted a boy....that's why she named you "Gerald"-ine.

    May 30, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. Nick G

    It continually amazes me how the team that had a 20 point lead and all the power of the democratic machine behind them, squandered it through laziness and arrogance AND NOW screams racism.

    May 30, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  10. KK

    Ferraro: You made me SICK!

    May 30, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  11. Philip

    Oh dear God... SHUT UP ALREADY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 30, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  12. Proud American

    What do you know, the crazy lady is back again and over what is she making new controversials now?! about the Reagan dems! Why, i just want to know, why? Is that all her worth? Dividing and whinning over everything and why is the media is paying her any attention. I mean, i don't see how important she is. She's a lunatic!

    May 30, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  13. Wesner, Miami Beach, Fl

    This woman here needs to get a real JOB!!! A year ago no one would have tought Obama would get this far. And now that he is close to the finish line; the enivetable clintonians are cought puzzling. Oh its sexist, and its the media. It's not Obama fault that he is genuine, and well like by everyone. It is Billary fault for being dishonnest with the American people. You cannot trust a word that comes out of her mouth.

    Obama 08-12

    May 30, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  14. I'm A Regan Dem

    I believe HRC should stay in the race, if she had a chance of winning the nomination under the rules that all agreed to. Her camp has moved the goalpost so many times and it appears they are willing to continue moving the goal until it favovrs the Clintons. They don't care about what's good for the party. They say they do, but that's just doulbe talk. They care about the Clintons, period!! If HRC and Bill are handed this nomination, the Dems can forget about the WH for at least the next 8 years, if not longer. The Clintons are "despised!" In the general election, the flood gate of voters on the "RIGHT," will make the record turnouts of Dem voter in the primary look like childs play. Are Dems willing to risk lossing the WH for 8 more years? Folks need to think about what it really means to have a Clinton nomination

    May 30, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  15. EW

    Only people who are trapped in "US' and "THEM" will fear being part of a greater WE. If you don't risk equality and you trap yourself in inferiority.

    May 30, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  16. marlyt51

    How is Ferraro any different then the catholic priest that spoke in Obama's church? Does it not seem that Ferraro feels that Hillary was to be President thru divine right and then this black upstart comes in with a muslim name and smoked her. There is nothing more bitter then a over 50 feminist who feels they didn't get their deserves.
    As Clint Eastwood said in Unforgivin "Deserve got nothin to do with it".


    May 30, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  17. Mark

    Amazing!! Geraldine sounds very bitter.............

    May 30, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |

    Shut the hell up! Loser!

    May 30, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  19. RD

    I love the way the Clinton team uses reverse Psychology. I can hear them now...Let's say he played the race card so all the white people will be offended and come over to our side. Let's say we've been sexually discriminated against so all the women will be angry and join us.

    Somebody close the old hag cage at the Brooklyn zoo?

    May 30, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  20. Anonymous

    Hillary was treated unfairly?? Her campaign made critical mistakes early to even allow an opening that Obama walked through. They were arrogant and cocky and thought she had it all wrapped up. Simple fact is there are many of us that feel "blessed" by 8 years of the Clintons and don't feel 8 more would be a good thing.

    Time for some youth, time for someone not entrenched and corrupted by years in Washington.

    I have lost a ton of respect for Ferraro.

    May 30, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  21. FloridaVoter

    a nut job.... and so irrelevant... whats happening to CNN?

    May 30, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  22. Pat

    So much for uniting the Democratic party! She is trying to excuse her comments. I am a woman and I don't feel Clinton has been treated unfairly, no more than Obama. Big mouth Bill has caused more trouble than he's worth! If we were to measure racism against feminism, who do you think would win? The Clintons are desparate and will use any tactics they can to get back in the White House! If we women can't win HONESTLY, then at least behave like the Ladies you profess to be. I am behind OBAMA and have been from the beginning. I am not voting for a race or sex, but for a person who can heal this bleeding nation.

    May 30, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  23. 39 year old white woman

    Why must I, as a woman, vote for Hillary? She is republican-lite, inside-the-beltway, and just more of the same. I am sick of people like Ms. Ferraro trying to scare people like me into voting for a candidate I do not agree with and do not and will not support.

    This is how we know we've reached true equality – I can choose NOT to vote for a female candidate because I disagree with her policies and track record, just like I can apply the same logic to a male candidate.

    Obama 08!

    May 30, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  24. Victoria

    I find your ideology frightening, AND divisive!

    May 30, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  25. Ben

    What a bitter egotistical woman. She was a candidate for vise president only because she was a woman, and the democrats mistakenly believed. her name on the ticket would bring in a lot of women voters. They were wrong!!!
    I believe she is still laboring under the ilusion that this whole thing revolves around sex and race.

    May 30, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
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