New book explores Clinton, Palin candidacies

Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:22am EST
 
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By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When Hillary Clinton made a strong showing and Sarah Palin was named to the Republican ticket in the 2008 U.S. presidential race, the election of the first female president seemed not so far off.

Not so fast, writes the author of "Notes from the Cracked Ceiling," a book released this week that explores why Clinton and Palin lost, what role gender played in their candidacies and what it would take for a woman to win the U.S. presidency.

Author Anne Kornblut argues that Clinton and Palin were at a particular disadvantage because they were women and that a number of hurdles will need to be cleared before a woman succeeds in winning the White House.

"I don't think it's automatically right around the corner," Kornblut, who covers politics and the White House for the Washington Post, said in an interview. "Some people do and think, 'Well we elected an African-American. We're obviously able to do it.'

"I don't think that. I'm definitely in the skeptical camp," she said.

Women candidates are faced with undue emphasis on their looks and family life and dogged by concerns over whether they are tough enough. They face stereotypes that would not trouble male candidates and dismissive attitudes about their qualifications and abilities, Kornblut writes.

Clinton, now U.S. secretary of state, made history as the first mainstream female candidate to seek the Democratic nomination for president. Palin, then governor of Alaska, was picked by Republican presidential candidate John McCain as his vice presidential running mate.

"They didn't lose because they were women, neither of them, but there were things related to being a woman for each of them that contributed to the problems they had that were not immediately apparent," Kornblut said.   Continued...

 
<p>Sarah Palin talks to her fans at a book signing event for her new book 'Going Rogue' at a Barnes and Noble book store in Grand Rapids, Michigan, November 18, 2009. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook</p>