Pat Schroeder Reviews the Clinton Campaign

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Pat Schroeder, the onetime Colorado congresswoman and presidential hopeful, revisits questions about Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign for the White House. More than a year ago, Schroeder talked to All Things Considered about whether the nation is yet ready for a woman president.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Women who have fiercely rallied around Hillary Clinton are another group that Obama will have to woo if he becomes the nominee. With each successive contest, Hillary Clinton's chance to, as she said, break the highest and hardest glass ceiling, seems ever more remote. And that has produced a deep reservoir of anger and frustration for women who are hoping to see the first U.S. president wearing a pantsuit and pearls.

More than a year ago, when the nomination contest was just getting started, we were asking, is America ready to elect a woman president? At the time, we put that question to Pat Schroeder, the former Democratic congresswoman from Colorado who had once considered a presidential run. When we last talked, Schroeder said America might be ready to elect a woman president, and she's come back to ponder that question once again.

Welcome to the studio.

Ms. PAT SCHROEDER (Former Democratic Representative, Colorado): Thank you. It's wonderful to be here.

NORRIS: Now, you did end up endorsing Hillary Clinton. And now that you're back with us again, Hillary Clinton, as we said, wanted to break the highest and hardest glass ceiling. If she didn't bust through the glass ceiling, did she at least pushed open the door in terms of public attitudes about the possibility of seeing a woman in the White House?

Ms. SCHROEDER: Well, I think she did. I mean, the visuals are so important. And, now, you know, she looks presidential. She can withstand the heat. It really has helped, that visual of her going through those debates. I think that has been very helpful. I think for many people, though, it's still very disappointing, many of the things that have happened to her, and she seems to have not had the support people hope she would.

NORRIS: Hillary Clinton is now talking about the sexism that she says she's encountered in the course of the campaign. And before we go on, she - we should take a listen, because she says the media is at the heart of much of this. And there is a YouTube clip that is circulating on the Web right now. It's a mash-up. It's got this sort of scary music, and it features a string of pundits talking about Hillary Clinton.

(Soundbite of YouTube video)

Unidentified Man #1: Big news from New Hampshire. Tonight is, it cries. After spending decades stripping away all trace of emotion, femininity and humanity, Hillary Clinton actually broke down and actually cried yesterday on the campaign trail.

Unidentified Man #2: Men won't vote for Hillary Clinton because she reminds them of their nagging wives.

Unidentified Man #3: And when Hillary Clinton speaks, men hear: Take out the garbage.

Unidentified Man #4: Let me tell you how it's...

NORRIS: When pundits talk about Hillary Clinton in sometimes sexist terms, does that have an impact on the voters?

Ms. SCHROEDER: I think when pundits talk that way about a woman, I think it diminishes the woman tremendously. It makes her look like she's not a player, or it characterizes her as something other than presidential material. Plus, it unleashes then all the cartoonists and everybody else to take pokes. But I think if you took it -all of these pundit comments and put them against the comments of others of how they dealt with the other people who are in the race, you would find that hers are really over the top.

NORRIS: Where the sexism is concern, there are questions about how Hillary Clinton herself has handled this. How does she talk about the sexism without looking whiney since projecting strength is part of her portfolio, and the question of gender, and why she didn't talk about gender more early on - the historic nature of her own candidacy?

Ms. SCHROEDER: Well, I think when you break down any barrier, whether it's racist, sexist, ageism, whatever it is, it's always very difficult to figure out how you do it. And, I think originally, she probably had strong advice from advisers saying don't mention it. I mean, we can look at you and tell you're a woman, so you really don't need to go out and say that; go out and talk about all the things you're for. When some of these outrageous comments started happening and things, you know, if she goes out and says this is really unfair, then it sounds like, oh, you can't take the heat. You know, oh, whining. Oh, crybaby. I think part of it is sexism is so ingrained in the society that a lot of this people don't even understand what they were saying or doing and how it will sounded to women.

But I think if you had had people showing up with signs at Obama things saying, you know, shine my shoes, I do believe there will be people saying, stop that, that's racist, that outrageous.

NORRIS: Now, Pat Schroeder, what do you say to people who look at this process and say all those who are angry that Hillary Clinton is not at the top of the ticket...

Ms. SCHROEDER: Uh-huh.

NORRIS: ...or is not heading toward the top of the ticket, need to exhibit a little bit of sportsmanship, because in a race they're always going to be someone who's disappointed and that all this talk about sitting the race out or voting for John McCain is unbecoming conduct.

Ms. SCHROEDER: Well, see, there we go. This is what their going to say women, there's absolutely no question. And of course women are all - our culture always says to them, oh, how awful of you to put your interests first.

NORRIS: So wouldn't people be saying that to Barack Obama's supporters if the tables were turned?

Ms. SCHROEDER: I don't think so. I mean first of all, I think all of that is totally irrelevant.

NORRIS: They wouldn't be saying the same thing to, say, African-American voters who threaten to...

Ms. SCHROEDER: People probably going to say that, and people are going to say that probably either way, but I honestly think that's really not the issue; the issue is do we win in November.

This is not sports. And to often then we think of this as sports. Okay, my team beat your team so be a good sport and suck it up. You know, well, that's not what it is. This has got to be our team, and all of us have to come together and we have to figure out how we win this thing. And that's what I want to see.

NORRIS: We've talk about anger and frustration on the part of some voters. What would best describe your emotion right now?

Ms. SCHROEDER: My emotion is sadness. I really so hoped that I would long enough to see a woman in the White House. And I now have to say now I don't know, because I think Hillary had probably the best qualifications of anybody we could ever put forward. I mean she really had the whole package.

NORRIS: Beyond the symbolism, why is that so important?

Ms. SCHROEDER: Well, it's important because I have two granddaughters and a daughter and daughter-in-law and I really want to see a lot of sexism batted down. I really had hoped we could see ourselves work through it.

NORRIS: Pat Schroeder is the former Democratic congresswoman from Colorado. She's also the president and CEO of the American Association of Publishers. Thank so much for coming in again to talk to us.

Ms. SCHROEDER: Thank you, it was a delight.

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