Clinton eyes new target with 'women for Hillary' campaign

Posted in United States | 07-Mar-07 | Author: Ed Pilkington| Source: Guardian (UK)

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton addresses Emily's List, a political network for pro-choice Democratic women candidates, in Washington, March 6, 2007.

· Female leaders lined up to counter Obama threat
· Up to 60% of voters in primaries will be women

Fresh from her efforts to secure the black vote at Sunday's civil rights commemoration in Selma, Alabama, Hillary Clinton turns today to the other voting block which she hopes to win over in her bid for the 2008 presidency: women.

At the annual luncheon of the progressive-leaning group of prominent women, Emily's List, Mrs Clinton will announce a push to enlist a network of what she will call "women leaders" into her campaign. The network, "Women for Hillary" will be the latest element within her internet-savvy campaigning which combines "Hillcasts" with daily emails and web interaction with her supporters. A new website targeted at younger women will be launched next week.

The move is more than just an added twist in the New York senator's bid to move back into the White House. Her advisers estimate that up to 60% of those who turn out to vote in the Democratic primaries will be women. Ann Lewis, Mrs Clinton's senior adviser, said that women were "speaking out with a powerful voice - in 2004, 9 million more women voted than men".

The Clinton campaign will emphasise how much American women continue to be discriminated against in the workplace, her commitment to abortion rights and the need for more research on specific female diseases. Latest figures show that women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by American men, with that number falling to 67 cents for African-American women and 56 cents for Latinas.

The senator is introducing fair pay legislation into Congress to close the pay gap, and that will be used as evidence of her commitment to women voters.

According to the New York Times, some of the household names being mooted as key figures within the new Clinton network are Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state, who has been engaged in aggressive fundraising for the Clinton campaign and former Wimbledon champion Billie Jean King. Geraldine Ferraro, a former vice-presidential candidate, plans to organise a rebuttal system on behalf of the senator whereby prominent women are at hand to go on air whenever criticism is levelled against Mrs Clinton.

Barack Obama has already gained the backing of Oprah Winfrey in his campaign. Maureen Michaels, a pollster based in New York, believes Mrs Clinton's new network needs to win over equally prominent figures: "If you put influential women into positions of prominence in your campaign - as Obama has done with Winfrey - then women voters will pay attention."