According to ABC's Cokie Roberts, hints that Hillary Clinton may be unlikable can be traced back to sexism. The veteran journalist appeared on Good Morning America, Tuesday, to promote her new book, but the conversation veered into a discussion of 2016. Citing an unnamed poll, Roberts referenced "research that shows that a woman who is strong and powerful is seen as not friendly and empathetic."
The journalist added, "Here we are in 2015...and we still have to deal with that." She lamented, "[Clinton] is running against herself." Roberts marveled, "She's trying to figure out how to show people how she's a warm and friendly person."
It's unclear which poll Roberts is referring to, but an ABC News/Washington Post survey from January shows Clinton's gender to be a plus:
Partisanship and gender identity are closely aligned in these considerations for Clinton as the first female president. While majorities across all groups say it will not matter, 4 in 10 Democrats and nearly 3 in 10 women say this fact will make them more likely to support her. Among men who see her gender as a factor, 19 percent are more likely to count it in her favor, and 11 percent say it makes them less likely to consider supporting her.
But Republicans who say it is an issue see it as a net negative, with 24 percent saying her gender will make them less likely to support her and 8 percent saying it makes them more likely to support her.
In a May 7, 2008 speech to the University of Virginia, Roberts feared that a Hillary loss could "set women back further."
A partial transcript of the April 14 segment is below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm here with our friend, Cokie Roberts. She's got a new book out today. It's called Capital Dames. It's a behind the scenes look at some of America's most fascinating and powerful women from the Civil War era. You see it right there. And Cokie, it's great to have you back. I want to talk about the book in a minute. But I gotta talk to you about Hillary.
COKIE ROBERTS: Right. Speaking of powerful women.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You saw this rollout. A little different – powerful woman. Trying to do it in a very different, low-key way.
ROBERTS: Well, she's kind of running against herself. Her own last campaign and who America thinks she is. And our crack pollster here at ABC has put out some research that shows that a woman who is strong and powerful is seen as not friendly and empathetic.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What a tough balancing act all the time, right?
ROBERTS: Here we are in 2015 – I know – and we still have to deal with that. So that's what she's doing. She's trying to figure out how to show people how she's a warm and friendly person. I think we'll see a lot of that baby.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I think – Well, that's – The grand baby is one new thing since the last campaign. But last time, she did seem to have a different theory. She was just going to be the strong woman.
ROBERTS: Right, because she was afraid people would think a woman was too weak to have her hand on the button and – or the red telephone in the night. Now she's selling wisdom, which is a good thing in an old woman.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It is a good thing and this does bring us to your book....