Original Link: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2008/08/28/2008-08-28_what_hillary_clintons_women_want.html
BY GERALDINE FERRARO
Hillary Clinton's speech before the convention on Tuesday night was brilliant. It reminded me of the one that Jesse Jackson gave in 1984 after a very contentious primary, when his name would be put into nomination the next evening and his 465-1/2 delegate votes would be recorded in the history books. His speech soared with reminders of a historic campaign, thanked supporters and recognized it was time to move on as a unified party.
Hillary's remarks, however, went even further than Jackson's did 24 years ago - by pressing for support, over and over, for her former opponent, Barack Obama, and urging party unity as the only way to defeat John McCain in November.
She could not have done more. And despite what some of Obama's supporters seem to feel, responsibility for a contentious campaign does not rest solely on her shoulders.
It seems to me there are now three distinct groups of Hillary Clinton supporters.
The first are the PUMAs - which, as everyone now knows, stands for "Party Unity My A--." For them - and over the last two weeks I have received hundreds of letters from women who consider themselves PUMAs - nothing Hillary could say or do would move them. They are livid at the sexist way that Hillary was treated by the media, and even angrier at the Obama people, the Democratic National Committee and Howard Dean as chairman, for not speaking up against it.
They believe that sexism is larger than this presidential race, that it seeps into the fiber of our country and must be stopped. They are convinced that if the media had been racist against Obama, Howard Dean would have been shouting from the hilltops - and so would have Hillary. They feel the party accepted a double standard, and many have indicated that they will either vote for McCain, write in Hillary's name or just not vote for President.
Those people were outside of Hillary's reach on Tuesday night.
A second group of Clinton supporters is those who chose her over Obama but who consider themselves good Democrats and will vote for the nominee. They also would never think of voting for McCain, primarily because of two vital, closely related issues of their concern: the Supreme Court and abortion.
That leaves the middle group. These are the women (and in smaller numbers, men) to whom Hillary was reaching out in her speech. They were on the fence; some of them remain there. They were disappointed when she didn't win the nomination and let down further when she wasn't chosen, apparently wasn't even seriously considered, to be Obama's running mate.
They were not only a significant number of the delegates in the convention hall on Tuesday night, but they are also the blue-collar ethnics and older voters in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida, who came out in large numbers for her toward the end of the campaign.
These are the ones of whom she asked, after recounting the stories of three people in various parts of the country who were having problems with health care or trouble making ends meet: "Were you in this campaign just for me?" And then, again referring to those people, she rhetorically asked, or "Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?"
She then went on to point out that Obama was the person who could meet those tough challenges. And that he was the leader we need.
Hillary has done her part. Now it's Obama's turn. Some of that third group at the convention were swayed by Hillary's speech. Some are still waiting for Obama to assure them about his experience and ability to handle the job. Some of them are waiting to hear if he really does understand them and their needs.
They want to be sure that when Obama said so frequently in the primaries that "Our time has come," that it didn't mean their time had passed.
Thursday night, we will find out.