A leaked email correspondence between Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook show the two agreeing Clinton shouldn’t emphasize her gender as her primary talking point during the 2016 campaign.
The emails released by WikiLeaks shows Cheryl Mills, one of Clinton’s aides, sending an email with a Washington Post article titled, “How Hillary Clinton can correct the biggest mistake she made in 2008.” In the article, Chris Cillizza argues Clinton’s gender is “actually the strong argument in her favor in the eyes of voters.”
Mook responded to the email by saying:
And I completely disagree with it! I think Cilliza is totally missing the mark (as usual if you ask me!)
In fact, I think running on her gender would be the SAME mistake as 2008, ie having a message at odds with what voters ultimately want. She ran on experience when voters wanted change...and sure there was plenty of data in marks polls with voters saying her experience appealed to them. But that was missing the larger point--voters wanted change.
Same deal here--lots of people are going to say it would be neat for a woman to be president but that doesn't mean that's actually WHY they will vote for her. That's likely to be how she will handle the economy and relate to the middle class.
It's also risky because injecting gender makes her candidacy about HER and not the voters and making their lives better.
That said I would not be surprised if this is a powerful message for donor and activist engagement (vs persuadable voters).
In an email response to Mook, Podesta chimed in, saying:
I am in total agreement with Robby's first point in this chain. One caveat--gender will be a big field and volunteer motivator, but won't close the deal.
Clinton has made her gender a major part of her campaign, repeatedly citing that one of her advantages is that she is a woman. The campaign even offered real physical “woman cards” as part of a donation drive.
The leaked email also shows Mook joking about wanting a “third party spoiler.”