One of the obstacles facing women who’ve run for president is that news outlets and even historians tend to forget or fail to mention that they did so. I remember being surprised when The New York Times did not list Patsy Mink’s 1976 presidential bid in her obituary. So today, when I came across a news article about Elizabeth Dole’s endorsement of Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy, I was delighted to see that her 1999 brief bid for the presidency was in there. The article, in USA Today, mentions Dole’s presidential bid (though reminds readers about her early drop out) and the News Max article focused on Elizabeth Dole’s endorsement and career first and her husband Bob’s endorsement separately and secondarily.
As women continue to aim for the White House, it is crucial that they are seen as independent political players, even if their husbands are political powerhouses. A good example is how Hillary Clinton has created her own political image, apart from the venerable former president’s. Not an easy undertaking, especially for a woman who served in the gender time-frozen role of first lady. When we hear “Clinton” we have to ask: “which one?”
The barrier of the “minimizing press” and others are discussed in my forthcoming co-authored (with Theodore Sheckels and Diana Carlin) book: Gender and the American Presidency: Nine Presidential Women and the Barriers They Faced. The Lexington book, and the cover art are due any day now!