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Ladies First: Republican Strategists Stand By Their Man

With gender -- specifically that of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) -- front and center in the race for the White House over the past week, The Fix was drawn to a panel discussion today in Washington that featured female strategists for the top four Republican candidates.

Billed "Women Voters and the Right Guy" and moderated by National Review's Kate O'Beirne, the stated goal of the panel was to explore how former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Gov. Mitt Romney (Mass.), former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.) and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) could appeal to female voters -- traditionally a reliably Democratic voting group.

Instead, as often happens when several Republican campaigns are gathered, it turned into a contest of who could bash Clinton more.

Karen Hanretty, a spokeswoman for Thompson, said that while she -- like many female voters -- understands the "emotional appeal" of electing the first female president, the fact that Clinton would be that candidate turns that emotion more negative than "positive, warm and fuzzy." Hanretty added that it was "pretty insulting" that people assumed that "we are all going to vote for Hillary because we are women."

Barbara Comstock, a Romney adviser, took it to a higher rhetorical plain. "We all agree that in 2008 the best man for the job is a man," she said, adding that "Hillary Clinton has never run anything in the private sector" -- echoing a talking point her candidate regularly uses on the stump.

When they weren't focusing their fire on Clinton, the four generally played nice with one another. Katie Levinson, communications director for Giuliani, said that the "differences between our candidates are minimal" -- a smart strategic statement when you consider she works for a candidate that is pro-abortion rights, pro-gay rights and pro-gun control.

The general consensus among the group was that stereotypes about which issues motivate women were dead wrong. "Women are not a monolithic voting bloc," insisted Levinson. "Women aren't just interested in education and healthcare."

Each woman insisted that their candidate had the right issue mix to appeal to women. For Thompson, that is his support for limited government and personal freedom; for McCain it's experience and authenticity, for Romney its thethree-legged stool and a record of results; for Giuliani it's leadership and the "terrorists war on us."

The truth is that no matter who the Republican nominee is, he will likely struggle to win a majority of the women's vote.

In 2006, women made up a slim majority (51 percent) of all votes cast. But, they went strongly for Democrats (55 percent to 43 percent), giving them the votes to retake control of both the House and Senate. Men, too, favored Democrats in 2006 but far more narrowly -- 50 percent to 47 percent.

In 2004, women comprised 54 percent of the overall vote and gave Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) a narrow 51 percent to 48 percent margin over President George W. Bush. Contrast that with men, who in 2004 went for Bush by a 55 percent to 44 percent margin.

With the war in Iraq remaining decidedly unpopular -- especially among women -- and the Republican brand tarnished it's hard to see how any GOP candidate reverses the trend from the last election. And, it remains our belief that women -- even many who believe right now they wouldn't vote for Clinton -- could well change their minds in the voting booth when presented to cast a historic vote for their gender.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 6, 2007; 4:26 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: The Results Are (Coming) In....

Comments

Loudoun voter, my grandmother is one of those voters who won't vote for a woman for President. These type voters do exist, and that is their choice frankly. You can't make someone think or believe something they don't. I find them humuorous, I don't get angry about it.

Ya know, in 2004 Dennis Kuicinich found a wife out of his campaign. Remember that? Weird! Wonder what the point of this campaign is for him...looks like impeachment of Dick Cheney is pretty high on the list. Watch his plane crash...can we say Paul Wellstone?

News Alert: Pat Robertson has endorsed Rudy Guiliani. I guess his problems with McCain's views on campaign finance and Romney being Mormon was enough for Robertson to endorse Guiliani. Wonder why he choose Guiliani over F. Thompson or Mike Huckabee?

Posted by: bryant_flier2006 | November 7, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

'claudialong -- you're the only reason I can think of to vote for Rudy. The fact that you hate him so much makes me like him that much more.'

then maybe you shouldn't have the right to vote -- since this is hardly an 'educated' response, but rather from a neandertherthal/ pathological POV. perhaps if you 'educated' yourself, like learning something about the candidate, you might earn the right to vote like those of us who walk upright and eat with utensils.....

Posted by: drindl | November 7, 2007 8:08 AM | Report abuse

people know what interacts with them...


watching the white man's world from segregation

[ economic segregation, enforced by access, mores, language and ability to interact uninhibited by ethnic behaviors encultured ]

would be like watching foreign movies....same world, different cultures. It's not a matter of intelligence, it's a matter of experience. I have taught some very intelligent black children, that will never move out of their neighborhoods, because they don't have the business or social skills necessary to do that....


experience is necessary, not simple exposure to ideas...


you want to make that part of society that is the poorest of the poor useful ???

refine them, intervene at the grade school, middle school and high school level... immerse them in a culture that requires them to understand interactions based upon group goals to succeed....


the problem will be solved forever, within 12 years....


rather than dragging on for another 1200....

think "cost effective," D.A**es

you want to know the truth ? ask an engineer...

ask anyone else, it's what they want to sell you....hire engineers to fix your problems and your country...

deese mofo's running the country now days, couldn't get a job if they couldn't buy the company....get a clue.

.

Posted by: afraidofme | November 6, 2007 11:03 PM | Report abuse

what's really interesting is that the people that

sell the polls, are knee deep in history...


and wouldn't know the truth if it bit them on the a**


they're not interested in the truth. they're interested in what has happened before...

they couldn't create a change if they needed to, or direct one...

that is why polls/opininons are only as good as their designers, and if their designers are basing their oponions on what has happened so far...they will miss the fact that life is about to change radically, for everyone...


Al Gore, the guy who just won the Nobel Prize?


Remember how he talked about population being an important issue right now, because of Global Warming ???


It's also an issue because of the strain that it places on existing resources....


in studying ecologies, when that ecology is impacted by multiple things that have a survival impact on that ecology, like food, oxygen, flow.... prey population and so forth...

when _one_ of the major impactors of an environment change, it has a predictable impact on the environment...


when you get synergistic changes to the major impactors of an environment, you can get unpredictable changes...

chaos, tumbling, dominoe effects....


population mixed in with food, water, energy and those things that effect those things could set the world up for a global size disaster....scattered disaster...


the dark ages occured because of disease, they also occured because of loss of population, and the removal of some key figures in some important families...


thoughtless actions in times where the effect of those actions can be rapidly propagated, could destroy markets, countries and civilizations...


lies, distortions and collusion to foster the illusion of "proper action," which is actually,


poor planning, 14th Century mentality in the 21st Century, could make AMERICA a very unprofitable place to live in...


be sure that you are electing someone that doesn't convey the image that "same old same old," is going to work... 'cause if you don't understand how closely we are intertwined in our interactions....

dependant,


and that somehow whatever the landed wants is what they should get,

you may end up in jail, within 3 years.

....pay attention....I am known for the accuracy of my insights.

.

Posted by: afraidofme | November 6, 2007 10:20 PM | Report abuse

How many of Romney's Utah wives are standing by their man?

Posted by: con_crusher | November 6, 2007 8:31 PM | Report abuse

dmstern: The answer to your question is quite simple. Hillary is my choice because she agrees with ME on the issues I care about the most, and I also think Hillary has the best chance of getting something done on these.

Posted by: lylepink | November 6, 2007 7:58 PM | Report abuse

I find something completely inexplicable - why is it that no one I know and no one I read about on various sites has any interest in Hillary Clinton as the nominee, yet in every pole she is so far ahead? I see far more interest in almost every other candidate, yet the poles tell us she already has it locked up. How can you be deemed the winner when virtually no one I know wants her? Here is a challenge I bet will go unanswered - I would like to hear ANYBODY out there explain why Hillary Clinton is your choice. Just one!

Posted by: dmstern | November 6, 2007 7:10 PM | Report abuse

claudialong -- you're the only reason I can think of to vote for Rudy. The fact that you hate him so much makes me like him that much more.

Did anyone read my post in the other thread about SECDEF Gates and the polarization of Washington?

Posted by: USMC_Mike | November 6, 2007 6:55 PM | Report abuse

'Loud and dumb - If you're a "regular guy" then I'm the King Of France. You're no kind of male I ever heard of. Your posts, your snide remarks, everything about your rings of a shrill and frustrated feminist.'

The shrill and frustrated King of France has challenged you to a duel, Loudon. I suggest you take off your dress [like rudy Guiliani] and polish your pistols.

Posted by: drindl | November 6, 2007 6:48 PM | Report abuse

JasonL,

Do you suppose that nowadays, since so many people have access to television, cable, google, radio, etc (even the poorest of the poor), that we could reasonably expect that voters should know something ---- anything?

I don't want to disenfranchise anyone, I just think it's a shame that brave men and women die to protect something that we take for granted.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | November 6, 2007 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Loud and dumb - If you're a "regular guy" then I'm the King Of France. You're no kind of male I ever heard of. Your posts, your snide remarks, everything about your rings of a shrill and frustrated feminist.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | November 6, 2007 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Well, USMC_Mike, some states used to have literacy tests in order to vote. It was a Jim Crow law, designed to disenfranchise blacks. It was declared unconstitutional in 1915. It is estimated that of 181,000 African-American males of voting age in Alabama in 1900, only 3,000 were registered to vote.

I think the effect would be mostly the same but include some economic disenfranchisement. The poorest of us tend to have the worst schools and receive the least education, etc. They'd have no voice.

This country may not have been exactly founded on that delightful Jefferson quote that's been thrown out already, but we do try to get close these days. Even idiots can vote. It's the American way.

You might want to read Starship Troopers sometime, if you haven't yet. I seem to recall that it was (and maybe is) widely read among soldiers and marines. In the book, you could only vote or get a lot of other government services if you were a citizen. Only certain people contributing to society in a meaningful manner (soldiers and the like) were citizens. It's a hell of a good read. I think I might read it again sometime soon; it's been awhile.

Posted by: JasonL_in_MD | November 6, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, a new general election poll has Clinton surprisingly competitive in... Texas, of all states! She even leads one major GOPer. Full numbers: http://www.campaigndiaries.com/2007/11/tuesday-polls-add-texas-to-list-of.html

Posted by: campaigndiaries | November 6, 2007 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Proud -- I'm not disagreeing with you or Jefferson; and I absolutely believe we are all equal. I think governing can and should be up to the common man, not some governing elite.

But what if we had to do a little work for our right to vote? Wouldn't it mean more to us if we had a sense of pride -- a sense of ownership -- in our vote?

We care about the right to vote so much so, that we are willing to fight and die to defend OTHER PEOPLE'S right to vote.

But then we either don't exercise it, or we exercise it poorly.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | November 6, 2007 6:06 PM | Report abuse

(woops, that shoudl've been "all men are created equal")

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | November 6, 2007 5:54 PM | Report abuse

'Seriously, what do you think about a democratic society having some baseline prerequisite to voting? Not financial or racial or anything like that -- But ought education be a necessary component of a vote? How much does my vote matter if I don't know anything about what I'm voting about/who I'm voting for.'

I would bet that about 80% of the voting public doesn't know what they're voting for -- so what you are suggestig is rather radical.

How about a return to white male property owners only having the vote? There's some strict constructionism at work -- and a lot easier to enforce.

Posted by: drindl | November 6, 2007 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Well you got me - if you get Turburville out of Auburn you could start whippin' up on us again.

I wish the voters plain cared more, Mike.

Probably reinstituting the draft [bsimon's suggestion] would work better than civics lessons because lots of well educated folks plain do not care. The posters here are far more concerned about America than most people, regardless of their ideologies or lack thereof.

Which reminds me I must go vote!

{You too, if you have not...]

Posted by: mark_in_austin | November 6, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

USMC Mike, Jefferson clearly spelled it out...all men shall be created equal. (Later the women and blacks were included in that of course) Our fellow military members past and present fought and died for our rights and freedoms, including the right to vote.

You ask "But ought education be a necessary component of a vote?"

How well would that have worked in Iraq, for example, where recently women and others could cast a vote for the first time in history?

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | November 6, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

come on proud, women might type this :)

8>P is much cooler and hence masculine.

I am 100 percent all-american guy ;>D

Posted by: Spectator2 | November 6, 2007 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Mark -- Thanks for your concern, but I think most Aggies are celebrating Dennis' departure. Given the school's size, traditions, spirit, and, even, state, there's no reason it shouldn't be a top 20 team year after year.


Seriously, what do you think about a democratic society having some baseline prerequisite to voting? Not financial or racial or anything like that -- But ought education be a necessary component of a vote? How much does my vote matter if I don't know anything about what I'm voting about/who I'm voting for.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | November 6, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

NO ONE is going to disagree with disallowing ignorant votes?

Posted by: USMC_Mike | November 6, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Hi Mike - The case [Bush v. Gore] reiterated basic principles most of the way. There is no individual federal right to vote for presidential electors UNTIL the state grants it - which all states have done.

Sorry about ol' Dennis.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | November 6, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

'This confirms it....no guy would type this: 8>P'

i'm sorry, what are you talking about?

Posted by: drindl | November 6, 2007 5:23 PM | Report abuse

'I wonder how many men will NOT vote for her because she's a woman? '

Loudon and bsimon, thanks for briging up the obvious. that's what I consider 'feminism' to have been all about--you vote for whom you think will do the best job, gender-neutral. And no, I would not vote for a woman simply because she's a woman.

But hey, I'm just an aging hippie...

Posted by: drindl | November 6, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

loudonvoter is definitely a female.

This confirms it....no guy would type this: 8>P

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | November 6, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Supposedly the 2000 Supreme Court Ruling (that told the Florida Court if they were to recount ANY votes, they must count ALL votes) also states that there is "no constitutional right to vote in a federal election".

If that is true, we should get to the business of taking away the right to vote from certain people. I suggest 3 groups of people who should NOT vote in a federal election:

1. Men who won't vote for HRC simply because she's a woman.

2. Women who will vote for HRC simply because she's a woman.

3. Anyone who can't tell the difference between Condeleeza Rice and Nansi Pelosi.

Mark in Austin -- what do you think about the "no right to vote" in federal elections?

Posted by: USMC_Mike | November 6, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

aha! got it! yes.

Posted by: bsimon | November 6, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

great minds think alike 8>P

Posted by: Spectator2 | November 6, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

"GMTA"

???

Posted by: bsimon | November 6, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

wow, bsimon, GMTA, huh? right down to the all-caps NOT. LOL

Posted by: Spectator2 | November 6, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I think it's pretty safe to say there are many voters who will NOT cast a vote for a candidate for president who is a woman, so why doesn't that outrage you people?

And please don't deny that this type of voter exists.

Posted by: Spectator2 | November 6, 2007 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Chris writes
"Hanretty [who works for Thompson] added that it was "pretty insulting" that people assumed that "we are all going to vote for Hillary because we are women.""

As a man, I tend to agree, it is pretty insulting to women to assume they will vote for a woman based solely on gender.

USMC_Mike asks
"Any women out there who are going to elect HRC simply because she's a woman too?"

I wonder how many men will NOT vote for her because she's a woman? Which person is acting more foolishly?

Posted by: bsimon | November 6, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

"And, it remains our belief that women -- even many who believe right now they wouldn't vote for Clinton -- could well change their minds in the voting booth when presented to cast a historic vote for their gender."

Many would say that being a woman is HRC's best position. I truly find this notion, that a woman would cast her vote for Hillary simply because she is a woman, deplorable. If this materializes and polling data shows this, I just might have to begin agreeing with Ann Coulter and her views on women voters...

Posted by: dave | November 6, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

"Women Voters and the Right Guy"

sounds like these gals are desperately looking for a date rather than a president..

Posted by: drindl | November 6, 2007 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Any women out there who are going to elect HRC simply because she's a woman too?

Posted by: USMC_Mike | November 6, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

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