Hillary Clinton Is Ready To 'Stand Out' As A Female Candidate

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A cropped version of the original photo of Hillary Clinton on this page. (Getty Images)
A cropped version of the original photo of Hillary Clinton on this page. (Getty Images)

At the end of the grueling 2008 primary fight, Hillary Clinton gathered supporters in Washington, D.C., and delivered perhaps the most memorable line of her whole campaign.

"Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it," Clinton said to roaring applause.

It's a line, one could say, that began paving the way for her seemingly inevitable 2016 campaign.

"And the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time," she continued.

Prior to that final moment in her campaign, Clinton rarely talked about the glass ceiling. The calculus — she'd have the women's vote locked up, but some of her campaign advisers were worried about alienating men.

"Don't you someday want to see a woman president of the United States of America?" Hillary Clinton asked at the EMILY's List gala earlier this month.
"Don't you someday want to see a woman president of the United States of America?" Hillary Clinton asked at the EMILY's List gala earlier this month.

In recent weeks, as she has assembled campaign advisers in New York and early primary states, Clinton has given a number of speeches to women's groups, pointing to a likely shift in tone from 2008 to 2016.

"Don't you someday want to see a woman president of the United States of America?" Clinton asked earlier this month with a glimmer in her eye at a gala for EMILY's List, an organization that works to elect Democratic women.

It's quite a contrast to 2008 when her standard response to questions about possibly becoming the first female president was, "But I am not running as a woman. I am running, because I believe I am the best qualified and experienced person."

The country was involved in two ground wars and Clinton and her advisers didn't want to leave room for anyone to question her toughness.

"I think the strategy was to say, 'I am qualified for this job," said J. Ann Selzer, who runs Selzer & Co., the pre-eminent polling firm in Iowa. "And anything that you think of, in terms of a stereotype of what a woman leader would be like — 'Oh, she'd be soft on defense; she'd be reluctant to send in the armed forces,' — she wanted to make perfectly clear that that was not going to be the kind of leader that she would be."

The complete text on the screen behind the Hillary Clinton read "We Are Emily."
The complete text on the screen behind the Hillary Clinton read "We Are Emily."

Some people involved with Clinton's 2008 campaign believe it was a mistake. Bonnie Campbell, a prominent Democratic activist in Iowa and former state attorney general, called it a different time.

"We think 2008 wasn't that long ago, but politically it really was," Campbell said. "And I believe that women candidates really believed that they should fit in rather than stand out."

Now, nearly seven years after the election of the nation's first black president, and two years into a national conversation about women leaning in, Campbell said she expects Clinton to run a different campaign.

"She's really relaxed and comfortable," Campbell said, "and clearly more willing to say, 'I am woman, and so are you, and so are your children. This is why it's important."

She points to the EMILY's List speech as a perfect example of this.

Even Clinton's explanation of deleting 30,000 personal emails from her time at the State Department hinted at a softer side she kept hidden for much of the campaign in 2008.

"Emails about planning Chelsea's wedding or my mother's funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes," Clinton said of deleted messages she did not want made public.

People close to Clinton said this is who she is, and, at 67, she's comfortable in her own skin in a way she wasn't before. She also now has a granddaughter and several more years of foreign-policy experience.

Editor's Note: We've put a new photo at the top of this post. Neither the photo we originally posted, nor a version with a wider crop, clearly showed the words on the screen behind Clinton. Those photos are below.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright NPR. View this article on npr.org.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This morning, Hillary Clinton speaks to labor leaders, and tonight she'll give her last scheduled speech ahead of what many expect will be the launch of her presidential campaign. In recent months, she has talked to a number of women's groups, pointing to a likely shift in tone from 2008 to 2016. NPR's Tamara Keith has more.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: At the end of the grueling 2008 primary fight, Hillary Clinton gathered supporters in Washington, D.C. and endorsed her opponent, Barack Obama. But she also delivered perhaps the most memorable line of her whole campaign.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HILLARY CLINTON: Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you it's got about 18 million cracks in it.

(APPLAUSE)

KEITH: It's a line, you could say, began paving the way for her seemingly inevitable 2016 campaign.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CLINTON: And the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time.

KEITH: Prior to that final moment in her campaign, Clinton rarely talked about the glass ceiling. The calculus - she'd have the women's vote locked up and some of her campaign advisers were worried about alienating men. The first question Clinton got at her very first town hall meeting in Iowa came from a woman who pointed out that all 43 presidents had been men.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: And my question is how is your campaign prepared to tackle that issue? Thank you.

KEITH: The answer was long and sort of meandering, as if Clinton herself was trying to figure out how to tackle the issue.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CLINTON: Oh, I expect there'll probably be more stories about my clothes and hair than some of the...

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: Some of the people running against me. And I just - I just have accepted that.

(LAUGHTER)

KEITH: But she said she'd just have to work harder, have to fight through the double standard. And then she got to a point that would crystallize in the coming weeks.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CLINTON: The fact that I'm a woman, the fact that I'm a mom is part of who I am. But I'm going to ask people to vote for the person they believe will be the best president.

KEITH: Before long, a standard part of her stump speech was this line.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CLINTON: But I am not running as a woman. I am running because I believe I'm the best qualified and experienced person.

KEITH: The country was involved in two ground wars, and she and her advisers didn't want to leave room for anyone to question her toughness. J. Ann Selzer runs her own polling firm in Iowa.

J. ANN SELZER: I think the strategy was to say I am qualified for this job. And anything that you think of in terms of a stereotype of what a woman leader would be like - oh, she'd be soft on defense; she'd be reluctant to send in the armed forces. She wanted to make perfectly clear that that was not going to be the kind of leader that she would be.

KEITH: Some people involved with Clinton's 2008 campaign believed this was a mistake. Bonnie Campbell, a prominent Democratic activist in Iowa and former state attorney general, says it was a different time.

BONNIE CAMPBELL: We think 2008 wasn't that long ago, but politically it really was. And I believe that women candidates really believe that they should fit in rather than stand out.

KEITH: And now, nearly seven years after the election of the nation's first black president, and two years into a national conversation about women leaning in, Campbell says she expects Clinton to run a different campaign.

CAMPBELL: She's really relaxed and comfortable and clearly more willing to say I am woman (laughter) and so are you and so are your children, and this is why it's important.

KEITH: Case in point - Clinton's speech earlier this month at the EMILY's List gala.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CLINTON: Don't you someday want to see a woman president of the United States of America?

(APPLAUSE)

KEITH: Even Clinton's explanation of deleting 30,000 personal emails from her time at the State Department hinted at a softer side she kept hidden for much of the campaign in 2008.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CLINTON: Emails about planning Chelsea's wedding or my mother's funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends, as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes.

KEITH: People close to Clinton say this is who she is. And at 67, she's comfortable in her own skin in a way she wasn't before. She also has a granddaughter and several more years of foreign-policy experience. Tamara Keith, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.