Why Hillary Clinton refused to attack Sarah Palin

It is hard to think of two political figures who have less in common than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, but there was a time–a very, very brief one–when they were on the same team in some ways.  Back in 2008, when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) tapped Palin out of nowhere to be his running mate, leaving reporters and political strategists trying to figure out who Palin was, the calculation was that Palin could possibly attract disgruntled Democratic woman who weren’t on board with Obama.  It was the PUMA crowd that McCain and Palin were going for.

To blunt that effect, the Obama campaign asked  Clinton to criticize Palin, who was making history as the GOP Veep nominee.  But, in an ABC News interview where she talked about her new book “Hard Choices,” Clinton says she refused:

That very first day, the Obama campaign said, well, we want you to go out and criticize her, I said, ‘For what? For being a woman? No let’s wait until we know where she stands. I don’t know anything about her, do you know anything about her?’ And nobody of course did. I think it’s fair to say that I made it clear I’m not going to go attack somebody for being a woman or a man. I’m going to try and look at the issues, where they stand, what their experience is, what they intend to do and then that’s fair game.

Clinton also said that part of the initial conversations she had with then-Senator Obama were about sexism in the campaign.

“In beginning the process of working with then-Sen. Obama after I ended my campaign, we had as I describe in the book, an awkward but necessary meeting to clear the air on a couple of issues, and one of them was the sexism that — unfortunately — was present in that ’08 campaign,” Clinton said.

Palin seized on this 2008 tidbit, tweeting:

 

Clinton also said that the environment for women–in politics and elsewhere–is much better for women, a fact that is in many ways due to her and Palin’s historic races in 2008.

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