Gender Politics Key to Hillary’s Political Calculation

Posted: Oct 23, 2007 1:07 PM
Gender Politics Key to Hillary’s Political Calculation

Hillary Clinton has made a political calculation to capture the women’s vote by playing gender politics to make herself the first woman President.

Her approach includes an often made pitch to women that she needs their votes to “make history” and “shatter the highest glass ceiling” by installing her in the White House.

To make Clinton’s winning strategy appear less mercenary, however, it comes with a heavy dose of feel-good, “you-go-girl” rhetoric that includes hair and make-up gossip on the talk-show circuit and light-hearted jokes about Republican men who can’t stop obsessing over her candidacy.

In a breakfast meeting with reporters, Penn predicted that 24 percent of Republican women would vote for Clinton, and released a campaign memo that said Clinton “enjoys her deepest support among working and middle class women - people who care most about issues like health care and child care, issues that Hillary has worked on throughout her life in public service.”

A June poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News revealed that Clinton polled “especially strong” among “lower-income, lesser-educated” women. Her campaign characterizes these voters as “women with needs” and some of her subsequent policy proposals, like her $110 billion per year universal healthcare program, would benefit them.

On the third day of her women’s outreach tour, Clinton proposed spending $1.75 billion per year to provide universal paid leave through expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act at a YWCA in Manchester, New Hampshire.

There, Clinton recounted her time working as a lawyer when she became pregnant with her daughter, Chelsea. “I kept getting more and more pregnant, and the lawyers just kept sort of walking down the hall looking away.”

She also lamented women could be discriminated against today for getting pregnant. “Women can be fired just for being pregnant, if their employer has no leave policy,” she said. “If that sounds horribly outdated that’s because it is.”

On October 16, the Clinton campaign held a women-only fundraising event dubbed the “Woman’s Finance Council Summit” that cost participants at least $1300 to get in the door. It netted her a cool $1 million.

She remarked that the event’s success indicated a “tremendous outpouring of support for us, for what we will do together.”

To further court the women’s vote, Clinton is even offering personal details about her relationship with Bill to media.

“Oh, he’s so romantic,” she told Essence, a fashion magazine that’s targeted to black women. “He's always bringing me back things from his trips."

She listed a watch with a wrist strap made of “white cubes” as one of those gifts. “I had dental surgery and it reminded him of teeth,” she told the magazine.

When pressed for details on how she managed Mr. Clinton’s infidelity she said, “I never doubted that it was a marriage worth investing in even in the midst of those challenges, and I'm really happy that I made that decision."

Then, Clinton remarked “it's so important for women to stand up for the right of women to make a decision that is best for them.”

The interview will be published in the November issue of Essence.