GQ: Mark Penn On Why She Lost

Highlights from the GQ Interview with Mark Penn (cont.)

At the end of the day, Bill's [Clinton] influence—did it hurt or help…? Look, there's no question that the Obama campaign took comments that could not in any way, shape, or form in an objective reality be seen as racist, and they told surrogates to characterize them that way. And I think that was the… And not only that, but when you look at who was making the comments, people who devoted their lives, you know—President Clinton was there in Little Rock—who devoted their lives to kind of repairing the breach racially in this country, it was doubly, it was really doubly unfair and troubling.

What you've described sounds an awful lot more nasty and ruthless than— …Just because, you know, people think Hillary was more negative than he was doesn't mean in fact that it was the case. Look, I just think, you know, President Clinton was extremely valuable. He was out there seeing people and putting the case for her, you know, day after day. And everyplace he went, she got more votes than she would have.

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Let's talk about the whole vice president thing. Should she be talking about it? Do you think she wants it? Look, I think that's totally gonna be up to Barack Obama and what he wants. And I don't think that she's gonna have any other comment on it. I don't think that it's really appropriate for anybody to talk about. It's Barack Obama's choice. And he's gonna make the choice that he thinks is best for his ticket, for the party, for the country…

But how do you feel about the idea? I think that the two of them together would make an excellent ticket.

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So let's talk about sexism. Where did you see it? …From the beginning, I thought she would get a tremendous amount of support from women. Women are 54 percent of the electorate. For all the talk about more young people coming out? More women came out. Millions more women came out than ever before. It was the largest increase. They're really energized. But you know, at the time that Obama said, you know, "She's playing the gender card," the media played into that, you know? She wasn't playing the gender card. If anything, there was a lot of other stuff going on here. Not from the Obama campaign, but just in society generally. And I think Chris Matthews owed her a major apology, and eventually delivered one. The media had been outrageous.

You mean Matthews's comment about "The reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around"? Right. And the kind of nutcracker dolls you could find at the airports. You know, the kind of stuff that would just never be allowed against anyone else was almost commonplace against Hillary. And I think, actually, after New Hampshire, women woke up to that. They supported her from that time on very solidly. And I think they saw her as both qualified for president and their champion, and I think that they became increasingly upset at the media over time. I think the media's got a lot of damage to repair with the women in this country.

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