Cokie Roberts recently asked a group of women from New Jersey, "Did you have any reaction to the fact that a woman was running?"
Josette Simmons, who works as a site coordinator for a nonprofit family success center in Newark, N.J., said, "Well, I think it's great. Because I think women are always kind of in charge in one straight form or fashion. And I think it's wonderful that she would step up and try to be the leader of the free world. I think that's great."
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"I'm pleased about it." Nuala Ryan, a teacher at a Catholic grammar school in Jersey City, N.J., said. "That doesn't necessarily mean I'll vote for her just because she's a woman."
Ryan says she is concerned that Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is polarizing and remembers feeling goose bumps when Geraldine Ferraro was running for vice president.
Mary Hickey, editor of Parents magazine, said, "It's kind of exciting. You know, it will be nice to have a woman president in my lifetime. I guess I feel a little weird that she's, you know, the wife of a former president. It kind of diminishes it just a little bit."
Hickey and her daughter Annie-Rose are from Montclair, N.J. Annie-Rose is a student at George Washington University and has volunteered for both the Clinton and Obama campaigns.
"I think it's important to sort of consider the candidates as candidates," Annie-Rose said, "as opposed to what they are."
Annie-Rose said she was originally planning to vote for Clinton but has since decided to vote for Obama because she thinks he will bring change.
Simmons, on the other hand, seemed to define "change" as having a female in office. "If we can embrace such a change as a change in gender, I think we're absolutely going forward," she said.
Roberts posed another question: "My grandsons said to me the other day, 'What do you mean a woman's never been president?' They, they were horrified. Does the fact that you could change that make a difference?"
Simmons responded, "Yeah, absolutely. If there's a woman, then that means that — there could be an African-American. That means that there could be a Hispanic-American."
Roberts said, "My mother … was born before women could vote. So is this a similar sort of hurdle? Is this a similar moment as that? Of saying, 'All right, now a woman president?'"
Dorothy Roszkowski, a civilian employee of the Police Department in Bayonne, N.J., agreed. "It's a wonderful thing, that we'll be able to look — we'll be able to say that we were here and we voted in the first president of the United States — "
"And she's a woman," Simmons finished for her. "Absolutely."
Asked to elaborate on her concern that Clinton was polarizing, Ryan said, "It is a worry. I haven't known people who — even when she was first lady — absolutely hated her with a passion that I thought was unreasonable. And I don't know if that feeling is still pervasive among a certain amount of the population."
Annie-Rose, who was familiar with the Clinton campaign, said, "I think [Clinton] divides people because people don't like her because they're threatened by a strong woman. I definitely think that's a part of it."