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."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments