In New Hampshire, Clinton asks women to ‘lean in’ to her candidacy

February 8, 2016
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is joined onstage by senators Al Franken (C) and Jeanne Shaheen (L) at a campaign rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, February 6, 2016.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is joined onstage by senators Al Franken (C) and Jeanne Shaheen (L) at a campaign rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, February 6, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

MANCHESTER, N.H. – At nearly every stop former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made in New Hampshire since arriving here last week, a supporter, a surrogate or Clinton herself has reflected on the potentially historic nature of her candidacy.

In Dover on Wednesday, Clinton reprised a line from her 2008 concession speech — that she is trying to break the “hardest, highest glass ceiling.” In Thursday’s debate in Durham, Clinton said as “a woman running to be the first woman president” she is outside the political establishment. Friday in Manchester Clinton stood on stage with New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, four women U.S. senators and the woman for whom an equal pay law is named, Lilly Ledbetter. Saturday in Concord, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the first woman to hold that position, said she wanted to remind young women the fight for equality is not over and “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”

Clinton has been more open about her bid to become the first female U.S. president during her 2016 campaign after shying away from framing it that way until her 2008 primary race against President Barack Obama was all but over. But Clinton has honed her pitch here in New Hampshire ahead of the state’s Feb. 9 primary election, and it has led to some of her most personal responses on the campaign trail to date.

At a town hall for New England College students in Henniker on Saturday, a young woman asked Clinton why some people think she is too “drilled and rehearsed.” Clinton is struggling to woo younger voters away from opponent U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, whose call for a political revolution has resonated with voters in their late teens and twenties.

“You know, I’ve heard that,” Clinton told the young woman. 

“There is, I think, a much greater burden on women running for political office, I wish it weren’t the case,” Clinton continued.

“I was reading a blog post that a friend of mine sent me, and she was talking about a young friend of hers who said, you know, one of the reasons young men liked Senator Sanders is his hair is a mess and he yelled a lot, and he thought that was just great, and I’m thinking to myself, what my friend said, ‘like that would work for any woman we know,’” Clinton said to laughter.

“So the fact is, I do have a somewhat narrower path that I try to walk … it comes across as a little more restrained, a little more careful … but I’ve got to be aware of the fact that I’m trying to be the first woman president of the United States of America, and there has never been one before, and so people don’t have, you know, an image,” Clinton said.

Clinton is fresh off a narrow victory over Sanders in Iowa’s caucuses and aides say her performance there, where she became the first woman to win, has left her emboldened and relieved. Iowa was a mental roadblock for the former secretary of state. In 2008, she came in third behind Obama, who also won the most support from women, and former U.S. Senator John Edwards.

Clinton turned it around in Iowa this time, also receiving the support of 53 percent of women last week. But just 11 percent of women and men aged 17 to 24 and 17 percent of those aged 25 to 29 caucused for her, according to an NBC News exit poll. In New Hampshire, where Clinton trails Sanders by double digits in the polls but has a long political history, she has reached out to young voters with events such as the Henniker town hall. But it is clear that earning the support of young women in particular is on her mind.

“Sexism. It still exists. I certainly know that, have the scars to show for it. I don’t want any woman held back because of gender,” said Clinton, who has a daughter and granddaughter, in Henniker.

Even a stop for doughnuts and coffee on Sunday morning became a conversation about breaking the hardest, highest glass ceiling.

The mother of a family dining at a Manchester Dunkin’ Donuts told Clinton her youngest daughter did not want her to win so she could be the first female president instead.

“You know what? I’ll make it easier for you,” Clinton told the young girl. “We’ve had 44 men … so when I win, you won’t have to worry about breaking the glass ceiling. Then we could have 44 women.”

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see