WASHINGTON: US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton on Tuesday urged women voters to back her bid to become the nation’s first female president saying she was ready to break the “highest and hardest” glass ceiling.
“Today, women are a majority of the voters, a majority of students in college, and we are a growing presence in the Congress but there are still far too few women in leadership positions,” Clinton said in a speech at a fundraiser for EMILY’S List, a national political committee that supports Democratic women candidates and abortion rights.
More than 54 percent of voters will be women in the upcoming 2008 elections and Clinton said she was launching a drive to reach those voters in her bid to get to the White House.
She told the 1,200 women gathered in Washington for the annual fundraising event honoring the first female US speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, that as president she would defend their rights.
“To all those who say a woman can never be elected president, I say you’ll never know until you try and I say that’s what I want to do in this campaign,” Clinton said. “Together we can break that hardest and highest of all glass ceilings and together when we do it will be all of our victory.”
Clinton chided President George W. Bush for his record on promoting women’s rights saying she was reintroducing on Tuesday a bill to ensure equal pay for women in the workplace.
“If the president will not sign my bill to assure equal pay for equal work, then as the next president I will,” she said to loud applause.
She also criticized Bush’s Iraq policy saying that as president she would end the war and work on a national security policy focused on “building allies instead of alienating people around the world.”
Polls show that Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, fares well among women voters and she has already received the endorsement of EMILY’S List as well as a number of prominent women including former secretary of state Madeleine Albright.
Gertrude Friedman, 91, a Washington area resident who attended Tuesday’s luncheon, said she hoped to live long enough to witness the election of the nation’s first female president.
“I think the country is ready for a woman president, she would keep us out of war,” Friedman said. “If she (Clinton) doesn’t make it this time, I don’t know how much longer I have.”