Women rally round for Hillary's toughest fight
If Hillary Clinton does well enough in tomorrow's key primary races in Texas and Ohio to keep fighting for the Democratic presidential nomination, it will almost certainly be because of a late surge in sympathy from her most obvious constituency: women voters.
For all the nastiness of the campaign – much of it from her camp – an unmistakable perception has begun to emerge that the political establishment and the media have begun to turn on Mrs Clinton largely because she is a woman.
Nobody knows how that perception might affect voting. The latest opinion polls have her behind Barack Obama in Texas and only narrowly ahead in Ohio. Such a result would all but kill off her chances. But the perceived anti-woman bias is firing up Senator Clinton's volunteers in Texas even with women who don't particularly like her as a candidate.
"You should hear the way men in this state talk about women," said Gloria Black, a volunteer at the Clinton office in Austin who has campaigned for decades on health care and children's rights, issues close to the former First Lady's heart. "It's 'bitch this', and 'bitch that'. That's the attitude we're fighting."
The woman issue resurfaced most recently in last week's candidates' debate in Cleveland, when Mrs Clinton was challenged by the two male moderators about some of her sharper campaign rhetoric. The moderators were arguably just as tough on Senator Obama when they asked him about an endorsement from the divisive black Muslim leader, Louis Farrakhan, but many women felt the toughness was lopsided in Mr Obama's favour.
"Perversely I think she becomes more appealing to women... when I sense the men ganging up on her," said Carol Coote, a Californian who originally supported John Edwards. Ms Coote said she was struck by Senator Obama's thin record of legislative achievements compared with Mrs Clinton's.
"He's been lazy about his work in Congress – but he had a campaign to run," she said. "Well, so did she! Hello! Do girls always work harder and get less reward?"
The hard-work argument is likely to play well in a state such as Ohio, with its no-nonsense Protestant ethic. Texas, meanwhile, has a long history of strong, feisty women in political leadership, such as Ann Richards, the irrepressibly witty governor who preceded George W Bush, and Barbara Jordan, who in 1972 became the first black woman elected to the House of Representatives.
In Texas, according to Peggy Iheme, a Clinton-supporting former school teacher, politics is not just a male topic of conversation. "It's not that we're disinterested in cookies and babies," she said, "but it's not what we talk about in our kitchens."
Across the state, Clinton supporters have been unafraid to voice their opinions or to write them on their T-shirts. "Well-behaved women rarely make history," read one, sported by a retired state representative from south Texas. "Yo soy tu chica [I'm your gal]," read another, from a Latina supporter.
Ms Black, the volunteer in Austin, said she was going against many of her Obama-supporting friends and relatives. But, to her, there was no choice.
"Hillary can do it all – in heels, walking backwards and without a penis," she said, laughing. "I've been on this train a long time, and I ain't hopping off until it reaches the end of the line."
Oscar Pistorius trial: Defence's own witness contradicts athlete's version of events
Oscar Pistorius trial: The case against Oscar Pistorius – and why the prosecution claims his story doesn't add up
Man ruins 38 million gallons of drinking water by urinating in Portland reservoir
Peaches Geldof funeral: Private ceremony to be held at same place as her mother Paula Yates on Easter Monday
Shropshire criminals ‘using unmanned drones and infrared cameras to find illegal cannabis farms’ – and then steal from the growers
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Are you turning into your dad? The top ten signs you've embraced dad-ism revealed as survey says 38 is age men turn into their father
- 2 Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
- 3 Overheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Grace Dent on TV: Game of Thrones has jumped the shark
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...