Senator Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House shattered a political glass ceiling and analysts say it may be easier for a woman to win the U.S. presidency in the future. But many of Clinton's female supporters are disappointed and angry about what they see as gender discrimination that they believe undercut her campaign. Leta Hong Fincher has more.
Senator Hillary Clinton ended her presidential bid on June 7. In her concession speech, she addressed the role that gender played in the campaign.
"I am a woman and, like millions of women, I know there are still barriers and biases out there, often unconscious, and I want to build an America that respects and embraces the potential of every last one of us," Clinton said.
Clinton referred to the almost 18 million people who voted for her during her race against Senator Barack Obama, now the presumptive Democratic party nominee.
”Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it,” she said.
Women were among Clinton's staunchest supporters during the Democratic primaries. Even First Lady Laura Bush commended Clinton on her historic campaign.
"I watched the campaign and I admired Hillary's grit and strength," she said.
Now that Clinton has suspended her presidential bid, many of her female supporters are expressing sadness and anger.
In Ohio, Clinton supporter, Heidi Fisher states, "I would like to hear the Obama camp not say anything negative about Hillary Clinton."
The presidential primaries exposed an undercurrent of sexism in American society, according to groups like the National Organization for Women - or NOW .
For example, at a Clinton rally in New Hampshire in January some men shouted "iron my shirt" at the candidate.
NOW says the news media made light of many insults.
"A lot of the sexism in our society and in our media has been rather subtle, and with Hillary Clinton, it's become much more overt, so many comments about her ankles and about her bottom and her voice,” said Kim Gandy, NOW's president. “Several different commenter have said on the air things like, well she reminds every man in the country of his ex-wife telling him to take out the garbage."
Gandy says Clinton's historic run for the presidency could help women running for political office. But she also says gender discrimination will continue to be an obstacle.
"We are still dealing with a situation where men are 84 percent of Congress and 82 percent of the governors and more than 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 vice presidents and above, and women are 20 percent or less. And by any measure, we still have a long way to go," Gandy added.
"That is why we need to help elect Barack Obama our president,” Clinton said.
In her speech, Clinton endorsed rival Barack Obama as the Democratic Party's nominee. Political analysts predict most of Clinton's female backers will support Obama in November's general election.
Curtis Gans, head of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University in Washington, explained, “I think most of these women will move into his]camp because of both the economy and the war."
Still, women's rights advocates argue that if Obama is to defeat Republican John McCain, he must do more to win over Clinton supporters who wanted to elect a woman president in their lifetime.