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Hillary is great, but look at other women too, activists say

May 02, 2013|By Michael A. Memoli
  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Women in the World Conference in New York.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Women in… (Marc Bryan-Brown / Associated…)

WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton would be the runaway favorite among Democrats for the party’s 2016 presidential nomination, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows, but activists at EMILY’s List, who have launched a campaign to elect the first female president, aren’t satisfied -- Clinton was the only female choice offered.

“It is a very nice list of Democratic male candidates,” said Stephanie Schriock, president of the group, which supports Democratic female candidates. “I’d like to today challenge any national polling organization to start testing some of these other great women, whether they are secretaries or they are senators. Because the truth is this is a wide-open race if Secretary Clinton doesn’t decide to do this.”

The Quinnipiac survey of 650 Democrats nationwide found that 65% said they would vote for Clinton in a presidential primary. If she were in the race, Vice President Joe Biden would be the second choice at 13%, followed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at 4%. Three other choices offered polled at just 1% each, while 14% of respondents said they were undecided.

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If Clinton chose not to run, the Quinnipiac poll showed Biden leading the pack with 45%, with Cuomo at 15%. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick climbed to 6%, followed by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley at 3% and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner at 2%. The undecided number also climbed without Clinton as an option, to 26%.

Schriock offered five women as potential presidential timber: Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, and Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

“I think it is right for all of us to really look at the full pool of potential candidates -- and that does include a list of strong women,” she said.

EMILY’s List on Thursday announced its “Madam President” campaign to elect the nation’s first female president. The effort will include town hall meetings in key early-voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire and an online effort to engage the public on the idea of a female commander in chief.

Clinton would be the obvious choice if she runs, but “if she chooses not to, our options are far from exhausted,” Schriock said.

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The group also hopes to add to the ranks of Democratic women in the House and Senate in 2014, as well as in governor’s mansions. There is just one sitting Democratic female governor, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

EMILY’s List produced its own survey of voters in nine battleground states testing the viability of a female presidential candidate. Eighty-six percent of respondents said Americans are ready to elect a woman as president, and 72% said it was either very likely or somewhat likely that U.S. voters would elect a woman in 2016.

The survey also revealed some potential barriers for a female nominee. One in four respondents said they thought a male president would do a better job than a woman on the issue of national security, while only 3% said they thought a woman would, though 70% said it would not make a difference. Twenty-two percent said they thought a male president would do better working with U.S. allies, while 8% said they thought a woman would do better.

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