Hillary Clinton’s top strategist predicted this week that a quarter of Republican women would vote for her “because of the emotional element of potentially having the first woman nominee.” Democrat Barack Obama’s pollster called the claim “entirely baseless,” and Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani’s campaign said Clinton was trying to twist facts to convince her base that she can win a general election.
What the commentators said
Being a woman is “a boon” to Clinton, said Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal. “But to make it work, she has to seem like a woman,” and that is where she runs into trouble. “This is not a woman who has to prove she’s tough enough and mean enough; she is more like a bulldozer who has to prove she won’t always be in high gear and ready to flatten you.”
Many women think Clinton’s election would be “a historic milestone and a source of great pride,” said Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post (free registration), especially baby boomers “who have seen the role of woman in American society change so dramatically.” And Clinton recognizes the opportunity this presents, so she has been making “an overt appeal to consolidate this support” by asking voters in campaign stops to “help her shatter ‘the highest glass ceiling.’”
The polls suggest Clinton’s sex is “a strong asset,” said Carl P. Leubsdorf in The Dallas Morning News. So there’s no reason to expect her to stop making TV appearances on The View, as she did this week, and running around telling audiences, “I’m your girl.” But the proof will come on election day, when we’ll find out whether voters are telling the truth when they tell pollsters they’re ready to vote for a woman as president.