President Hillary Clinton. Is America ready?

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By Janine Cooper
Observer Staff
NOV. 29, 2007

When Americans make their way to the polls in November 2008, a new, but recognizable name will appear on the presidential ballot. Hillary Clinton may win the Democratic presidential nomination, but is America truly ready for a woman president?

There are numerous factors that come into play with a woman running for president.

Gender attitudes, educational background, her husband’s influence, and her political views are some of the factors that may or may not get her elected. Will these be the ultimate factors that disrupt her road to the White House?


Photo by Janine Cooper.
Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.

Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon has been in the political arena for 20 years. She is the first woman to hold the title and understands the challenges that women face when running for office.

“I think there’s some who still have the mindset that a woman shouldn’t be in politics and particularly the president of the United States, being able to handle the military and security issues, but I don’t think it should matter,” said Dixon.

Where nations such as Germany, Britain, Israel, and India have already elected women leaders, the U.S. has not joined the club. There will be people voting for Clinton, based on the fact alone that she is a woman. However, there will be others who won’t vote for her because she is.

Jennifer Clancy, a Pennsylvania attorney and registered Republican, thinks that some men will discriminate against Clinton because she is a female. “With some men, come hell or high water, they don’t want women and they don’t want Hillary,” said Clancy.

“I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman and a woman can’t run the country like a man can,” says 41 year-old Miami native, Willie Robinson, Jr.

On the other hand, there will be some men who will vote for her. Glenn Phillips, a teacher, says he will vote for Clinton for numerous reasons. “I think she’s experienced because she is a senator. I think she will be positive for everyone and she knows the issues,” says Phillips. “She is knowledgeable and confident.”

Yet, there are women who don’t like her. “I wouldn’t vote for her because of her ideology,” said Tara Haggar, a conservative homemaker.

According to the latest USA Today poll, women like Hillary Clinton more than men do, revealing a gender gap. Fifty-two percent of women have a favorable opinion of her, while 55 percent of men have an unfavorable opinion of her.

Clinton brings education to the presidential race. Men and women alike are impressed by her high level of education (Clinton is a Yale Law graduate), some even admitting that they would vote for her for that reason alone.

Clinton would be the first former first lady to run for president. Chairman of the American Conservative Union, David Keene assumed that Clinton will win the Democratic nomination. He says that she is “qualified, smart, and disciplined,” making her ready to be a president.

“In the primary, they have put together a Clinton machine in the Democratic party,” said Keene. It’s difficult to see anyone who would stop her, he said, especially with the amounts of money she raises for her campaign.

Former Bush political advisor Karl Rove agrees, but he thinks she is likely to lose the presidential race. In an Aug. 13 Wall Street Journal interview, Rove predicted that Clinton would win the Democratic nomination.

“They are likely to nominate a tough, tenacious, fatally flawed candidate,” he said.

Mike Mears, the executive director for the Concerned Women for America, a conservative Political Action Committee, said that some people would look at what Clinton did as first lady, but also judge her by her husband’s record.

“I think her legacy is tied to her husband,” said Mears.

Regardless of whether people support Clinton or not, there are some strong reactions to her.

With Clinton having experience in the White House through her husband’s presidency, many feel that she knows the job better than any other candidate. Kamela Patton, assistant superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools said that Clinton has already built relationships within the White House and has proven leadership experience.

“She knows the job better than anyone else,” said Patton. When referring to Bill Clinton’s presidency, Patton said, “she cannot account for her husband’s actions. She must be able to account for her own.”

Issues that surround the presidential election, such as healthcare and the war in Iraq, are important in this presidential race.

Lisa Ziriax, communications director for the National Federation of Republican Women, said that people will look at the issues over any other factors. Clinton’s position on these issues will, in the end, be the deciding factor. However, people are looking at her personal characteristics too.

In a July New York Times-CBS News poll, one in four people said they liked Clinton because she is strong, outspoken, courageous, forceful, and able to handle the press; but one in five said they disliked her because she is dishonest.

Latifa Lyles, membership vice president of the liberal National Organization for Women believes the biggest factor that will affect Clinton is voter turnout. Getting people out to vote, while educating them on the issues, will play a huge role come election time, she said.

When looking at the presidential election in 2008, people are focusing mainly on the issues at hand. Some may cast their vote for Clinton on the basis of gender alone. Others will vote regardless of her gender. In the end, there will be some who will vote for her and some who will not.

“It will [all] play out at the ballot box,” said Lyles.

The American University School of Communication Graduate Program in Journalism works to prepare students for the realities of today's news and information space and the challenges of tomorrow. Find out more by visiting us online at soc.american.edu

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