WASHINGTON — This one’s for the girls.
That was Hillary Rodham Clinton’s message as she ended her presidential bid last Saturday — a final, full-throated acknowledgment of what her pioneering quest had meant to women.
It was a moving, genuine and unexpected moment for Clinton, who spent most of her campaign playing down her gender to reassure voters who might have trouble imagining a female commander in chief.
Speaking to supporters at the National Building Museum here, Clinton finally seemed to jettison the counsel she’d received over the course of her 17-month campaign to be safe and non-controversial — advice that made her seem steely and dull, and robbed her of the magic her barrier-breaking campaign might otherwise have had.
Also gone was the careful, poll-tested message of “strength and experience” she had pressed throughout the campaign, which emphasized her toughness at the expense of her humanity and warmth.
In defeat, she was finally free — and clearly eager to let it rip.
“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,” Clinton said — a reference to the millions of voters who supported her in the primaries.
“The light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time,” she said to applause and cheers.
The former first lady, who made history with her election to the Senate in 2000, spoke of running for president as both a mother and a daughter. Her weeping 89-year-old mother, Dorothy Rodham, and 28-year old daughter Chelsea stood nearby.
She channeled suffragists who gathered in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848. She noted that biases against women still exist. And she spoke to female insecurity, urging women not to take the wrong message from her defeat and never give up trying to try to achieve their dreams.(p2)
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