Story by Chris Graham
A big deal was made about Hillary Clinton crying the day before the New Hampshire primary that she had appeared at the time destined to lose to Barack Obama.
Former vice-presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro thinks it was way, way too much a big deal.
“I have to tell you how many times I saw President Reagan cry. George Bush the father – nice, nice man; why are these people all so nice? – cried when he thought his son was losing the election. I mean, nobody said that was terrible. That’s human,” Ferraro told reporters after her address to the 2008 Washington and Lee University Mock Democratic Party convention yesterday.
“She didn’t even cry. She got emotional. And she got emotional because she cares about the issues of this country. She cares more than anybody I know. I really mean that. And she can make a difference – and she knows that. And when she was asked, Why do you do it, she got emotional, because that’s what her life is,” Ferraro said.
“Did that win the primary in New Hampshire? I don’t think so. You know, it was a place where they had both been campaigning. I think there are women who had been undecided, and I think watching what was going on and listening to the issues, they decided at the last minute to vote. And I think that’s terrific, and I hope they do the same thing in every one of these primaries,” Ferraro said.
Ferraro ran on the Democratic Party ticket with Walter Mondale in 1984 – challenging Ronald Reagan’s re-election bid in a contest that Reagan won in a landslide. The then-New York congressman was the first woman nominated to run on a major-party national ticket – and it had seemed at the time that her candidacy would open the door to more women in the future.
But outside of Elizabeth Dole, there really hadn’t been a woman to emerge in the footsteps of Ferraro until the 2008 race that has Clinton, a New York senator and former First Lady, in a tight race for the top spot on the Democratic national ticket.
Ferraro, who has endorsed Clinton in ’08, has some ideas as to the dearth of female candidates in the past quarter century.
“You have to look at the universe from which presidential candidates come. They’re from the United States Senate. They’re from governor’s mansions. The people who have tried to do it without that background – you know, this Steve Forbes or any of these others, the only person who’s been elected who hasn’t held office before in the past 60 years was Dwight Eisenhower, and, you know, he didn’t have a shabby resume,” Ferraro told me.
“How many women do you have in the United States Senate? Now it’s 16. In 1984 when I had the nomination, there was one – Nancy Kassenbaum from Kansas. Now there is more of that universe. How many governors – I don’t know, seven, eight, nine now? There were two women from small states (in 1984). When you don’t have women in the universe from which presidential candidates come, you can’t expect them to do it,” Ferraro said.
“There’s a real difference between when a woman gets elected to one of those offices and a man. I’m absolutely convinced, because I’ve seen it time after time after time, that a woman gets elected to the United States Senate, she gets up the next morning, and she says, I’ve got six years, I need to do this, this, and this, and I need to get started, I’ve got to get this stuff together, I’ve got to get it all moving. I’ve got to do this, so when I go back, I can tell them, This is what I did for you. When a guy gets elected senator, he gets up the next morning, and he says, I’m presidential material,” Ferraro said.
“I think Barack Obama is terrific. But he was in the Senate a year. John Edwards, you know, was in the Senate a year when he ran for president – two years (actually he had been in the Senate five years when he announced his candidacy). If either of them had been females, forget it,” Ferraro said.