, WASHINGTON, Feb 13 – Hillary Clinton says her life’s work has been a battle to help women make their own choices, but the first rounds of the Democratic nomination race raised big doubts over whether America’s women will choose her as the country’s first female commander-in-chief.
The former secretary of state is on the offensive after suffering a blowout defeat to Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primary, where she lost out heavily to younger women despite promises to be their champion in the White House.
Two prominent Clinton supporters complicated her efforts to woo female voters last weekend with statements that triggered an embarrassing backlash by suggesting women were duty-bound to back the former first lady.
On the debate stage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Thursday night, the 68-year-old reached out over and over to the female electorate – talking up her feminist credentials, but also insisting she does not take their support for granted.
“I have said many times I am not asking people to support me because I’m a woman,” she said.
“I am asking people to support me because I think I am the most qualified, experienced and ready person to be the president and the commander-in-chief.”
Exit polls in New Hampshire showed Clinton – the only woman still vying for the White House – receiving 44 percent of the female vote, compared to 55 percent for Sanders.
More troublingly, young women seem to be flocking to her rival: the 74-year-old senator from Vermont won 82 percent of the vote among women younger than 30, and 69 percent of votes from women under 45 in the state.