By Allison Stevens
Washington Bureau Chief
Thursday, February 14, 2008
In the wake of Hillary Clinton's poor showing in the Potomac Primary, some women's rights leaders are rallying to her side. Others, however, identify the war in Iraq as their high-priority issue and say it has swung them toward Obama.
WASHINGTON (WOMENSENEWS)--It could have been the freezing rain and slippery streets that kept supporters of Hillary Clinton's presidential bid away from the sports bar in downtown Washington, where her campaign held a party to watch the election returns in the so-called Potomac Primary on Tuesday night.
Or it could have been early warnings of the returns. Before the party had even started, news outlets were reporting that Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was on his way to crushing victories in nominating contests in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Whatever the reason, fewer than a dozen people showed up to Clinton's party at the Penn Quarter Sports Tavern, a pub just a few blocks from the White House where giant flat-screen televisions broadcast Clinton's regional losses.
"Obviously tonight is not the best night," said Georgi Daugherty, a 28-year-old legal technician in Washington, D.C., and a "swing voter" who is volunteering for Clinton. "But this is going to go on to the bitter end."
David Jaquette is a 28-year-old attorney from Maryland who hopes that "Dunkin Donut Dems"--or lower-wage Democrats--will start turning out in coming contests to counter what have been dubbed as the more well-heeled "latte liberals" going for Obama.
Detracting further from any likelihood of a festive atmosphere at the pub was news late Tuesday that Clinton's deputy campaign manager Mike Henry had submitted his resignation in the wake of Clinton's latest setback. Clinton's now former campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle quit last week; she has been replaced by longtime aide Maggie Williams.
Clinton now faces "Obamamentum" as the campaign heads toward Wisconsin and Hawaii, which hold contests on Feb. 19, and then to Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont, which hold nominating races on March 4.
In the face of that, nine prominent women's rights leaders--including Gloria Steinem; Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women; and Ellie Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation--are circling the wagons around Clinton.
"As women who have spent our careers fighting to protect a woman's right to choose, we recognize that the next president will face serious challenges to safeguard the reproductive health of women," they wrote in a Feb. 6 letter circulated online. "In our opinion, there is one candidate whose leadership on this issue is unparalleled: Hillary Clinton."
On Tuesday Obama not only dominated the races but also prevailed among women, the backbone of Clinton's supporters.
Sixty percent of all female voters in Virginia and 55 percent in Maryland backed Obama, according to a CBS News analysis of exit polls. Clinton managed to hang on to a majority of white women; 54 percent voted for her in Virginia and 55 percent in Maryland.
Clinton's heavy defeats in the Potomac Primary come on top of h