Clinton on the gender card

Challenged by CNN's Campbell Brown, the female front-runner uses a very pregnant pause to make her point.


Joan Walsh
November 17, 2007 1:25AM (UTC)

Hillary Clinton just handled the completely predictable gender question very well. CNN's Campbell Brown, who was recently hired away from MSNBC but had to postpone her move to the 8 p.m. anchor slot because she's pregnant, asked a tough but fair question about whether Clinton and her supporters had played the gender card by pointing to the fact that it was an all-male stage of candidates who ganged up on her in the last debate.

Clinton insisted she hadn't claimed sexism was behind the attacks. "I'm not trying to play the gender card, I'm trying to play the winning card. People aren't attacking me because I'm a woman, they're attacking me because I'm ahead," she told Brown, and then praised the Democratic field for offering a Latino and African-American as well as a woman. When Brown followed up, asking Clinton what she meant when, in a speech at her alma mater Wellesley, she talked about trying to break into the "boys club" of the White House, Clinton showed perfect comedic timing. She paused for a second after the question, and then looked at the pregnant anchor with incredulity and simply said:

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"Campbell."

Brown grinned. "Just curious."

Clinton answered with a little speech that was perfectly fine but didn't say as much as that excellent pause.

"Well, it is clear I think from women's experiences that from time to time, there may be some impediments. It has been my goal over the course of my lifetime to be part of this great movement of progress that includes all of us, but that has particularly been significant to me as a woman. And to be able to aim toward the highest, hardest glass ceiling is history making. Now, I'm not running because I'm a woman, I'm running because I think I'm the best qualified and experienced person to hit the ground running. But it's humbling, it's inspiring. I have to tell you as I travel around the country. Fathers drive hours to bring their daughters to my events. So many women in their 90s wait to shake my hand, and say something like, 'I'm 95 years old, I was born before women could vote, and I want to live long enough to see a woman in the White House.'"

Wolf Blitzer then asked if any of the "boys" wanted to follow up, and unfortunately John Edwards took the bait. He didn't address the gender question at all but returned to calling Clinton a "corporate Democrat," and got booed for his trouble. I don't think it was Campbell Brown's intention, at all, but the girls club onstage in Las Vegas tonight definitely scored points for Hillary Clinton.


Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh is the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."

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