Saturday, August 30, 2008

Women and the Presidency

With today's selection of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate, I thought it would be interesting to look back at previous women running for president.

Wikipedia has a list of women who were nominated for president or vice-president by 3rd parties.

Although it was never official, Elinor Roosevelt must be mentioned. FDR's health was worse than they let on and she assumed some of his duties near the end of his life.

In 1972, Shirley Chisholm made a splash when 152 delegates voted for her in the Democratic National Convention. This made her the first black candidate and the first woman to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate.

In 1984, Walter Mondale was way behind Reagan. He decided that his only chance was to gamble on a woman. He chose an obscure congresswoman named Geraldine Ferraro. This didn't help him. He went down in a historic drubbing. Ferraro made the news earlier this year when she observed that Barack Obama's skin color was helping him in the primary just as her gender got her on the ballot in 1984. This led to Obama's famous race speech.

In 1988, there was a lot of pressure for George H. W. Bush to name a woman as his running mate. The Republicans had two women who were well-qualified - Elizabeth Dole who had held cabinet positions and Jeane Kirkpatrick, the Ambassador to the UN. The rumor is that Bush didn't like either of these women and wanted to prove that he could win on his own.

In 1992, the Clintons presented Hillary as a co-president. There was also talk of appointing her to the Supreme Court.

In 2000, Elizabeth Dole ran for president. Her candidacy didn't go anywhere.

And of course, in 2008, Hillary Clinton ran and lost by a fraction of a percent of the delegates. Hillary supporters have noted that the final choice was made by the super-delegates who decided to neuter themselves by ratifying the candidate with the most elected delegates, no matter how close the result.

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