Hillary Clinton’s Unexpected Obstacle: The Women’​s Vote

Hillary Clinton in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Feb. 2
Hillary Clinton in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Feb. 2
Abby Phillip and Frances Stead Sellers

CONCORD â€" On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, Hillary Clinton's quest to become the country's first female president has encountered an unexpected problem: She is having trouble persuading women, young and old, to rally behind her cause.

The latest sign came Sunday, when a new CNN-WMUR survey here showed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders beating Clinton among women by eight percentage points â€" which represents a big shift from the results last week in the Iowa caucuses, where Clinton won women by 11 points.

The survey followed unintentionally problematic comments over the weekend by Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem, older trailblazers who were trying to encourage younger women to support Clinton.

Steinem apologized Sunday for saying on a TV appearance Friday night that younger women were supporting Sanders because "the boys are with Bernie." On Saturday, Albright drew criticism for saying that "there's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other," even though she has expressed that sentiment many times before.

Where's her "Yes We Can"?

Clinton's struggles with women underscore the extent to which she has not yet figured out how to harness the history-making potential of her candidacy in the same way that Barack Obama mobilized minorities and white liberals excited about electing the first black president.

Cognizant of the challenge, the Clinton campaign has sought in recent days here to address the problem, tweaking her speeches to put a focus on Clinton as an advocate for women. Clinton spent part of Friday with a group of female U.S. senators she calls the "sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits."

At the Saturday event with Albright, Clinton offered an aspirational message â€" saying that the country's history is "one of rising, of knocking down barriers, of moving toward a more perfect union" â€" that appeared designed to present her candidacy as a milepost on that national journey.

In a Sunday appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, Clinton defended Albright, saying that her words were a "lighthearted but very pointed remark, which people can take however they choose."

"I think what she was trying to do, what she's done in every setting I've ever seen her in going back 20-plus years, was to remind young women, particularly, that you know, this struggle, which many of us have been part of, is not over," Clinton said.

Steinem wrote on her Facebook page that her remarks to comedian Bill Maher in which she seemed to say that pro-Sanders feminists were just looking for dating opportunities was a case of "talk-show Interruptus."

"I misspoke on the Bill Maher show recently, and apologize for what's been misinterpreted as implying young women aren't serious in their politics," she wrote.

Even so, Steinem's comments pointed to the unexpected obstacle facing Clinton and her backers: a deep divide among women and feminist activists over how voters should respond to her.

The more feminist candidate

While many older women's rights advocates see the election of Clinton as the next logical step in a broader movement, some younger activists have expressed resentment at the notion that they should feel obligated to vote for Clinton simply because she's a woman. Some have argued in recent months that Sanders, with his calls to end income inequality and make college free, is arguably the more feminist candidate.

"Hillary doesn't seem to address those huge issues," said Alexis Isabel Moncada, whose @feministculture Twitter account launched in April and boasts 179,000 followers.

Moncada, who is 17 but will be old enough to vote in November, said Clinton's personal wealth and her life as a former first lady and secretary of state create a "disconnect with the entirety of women."

On the trail, Clinton has begun to show more openness and reflection about the challenges of running as a woman in office, sometimes in response to challenges from other women.

At a student town hall at New England College on Saturday, a young woman told Clinton that she supported her in 2008 but has doubts about her candidacy now.

"My concern is that your answer that nothing new was found in the Benghazi hearings continues to give me some doubts," the woman said. "Everybody knows you can't write 30,000 emails to your yoga instructor."

Another young woman asked why her peers think that Clinton is too buttoned up and "rehearsed."

"I do have a somewhat narrower path that I've tried to walk," Clinton answered. "I do think sometimes it comes across as a little more restrained, a little more careful, and I'm sure that's true. It's not just about me, it's about young women, women of all ages, the expectations that are put upon you and how you deal with them and how you find your true voice and how you stand up for yourself and who you become."

Many women's rights advocates say they are proud to back Clinton, not just because of her gender but also because of her vast experience as a lawyer, first lady, senator and secretary of state.

In recent weeks, Clinton has won endorsements from numerous women's rights organizations, including the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the National Organization for Women, Emily's List, NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Feminist Majority Foundation.

The old guard's feminist fight

The foundation's president, Eleanor Smeal, who launched a campaign on Clinton's behalf, She Wins We Win, said in an interview that Clinton has not only fought for women's rights here and overseas but is "probably the strongest single candidate that has ever challenged for the presidency."

Some have argued that they will vote for Clinton precisely because she's a woman.

"There has never been a president who knows what it's like to menstruate, be pregnant or give birth," Kate Harding, 41, wrote in the online women's magazine Dame shortly after Clinton declared her candidacy. Nor, Harding said, has their been a president who has faced such blatant sexism "for showing too much cleavage, or having "cankles' or wearing unflattering headbands."

A question for Clinton is whether she can use what is looking to be an extended primary campaign against Sanders to energize women for the general election should she win the nomination.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump traded accusations of sexism with Clinton, prompting a reexamination of the support Clinton won from feminists in the "90s when she defended her husband against a sex scandal that threatened to derail his presidency.

Kate Michelman, a former NARAL president and a prominent supporter of Clinton's candidacy, echoes Clinton's own evocation of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" in arguing that "the forces of sexism and anti-feminism are going to be loud and clear in their attempt to make sure no women get the presidency of this country."

And some self-identified feminists say they feel less urgency to elect a woman in 2016 than they did eight years ago, perhaps because this is the second time a woman has come so close.

Shelby Knox, 29, subject of a documentary about campaigning for sex education in Texas schools, was living and working with Steinem in 2008 and said she found the attacks so painful she was "almost scared" to see Clinton announce again.

"When Hillary lost, I had this horrible fear that Gloria Steinem would never see a woman president," said Knox, "as if the nation would reject any woman."

This time around, she is confident Clinton will win. And even if she doesn't, Knox thinks she will live to see a female president.

"It will be impossible for us not to have a woman president," she said. "I have no doubt it will happen."

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food / travel

The True Horrors Behind 7 Haunted Locations Around The World

With Halloween arriving, we have dug up the would-be ghosts of documented evil and bloodshed from the past.

Inside Poveglia Island's abandoned asylum

Laure Gautherin and Carl-Johan Karlsson

When Hallows Eve was first introduced as a Celtic festival some 2,000 years ago, bonfires and costumes were seen as a legitimate way to ward off ghosts and evil spirits. Today of course, with science and logic being real ghostbusters, spine-chilling tales of haunted forests, abandoned asylums and deserted graveyards have rather become a way to add some mystery and suspense to our lives.

And yet there are still spooky places around the world that have something more than legend attached to them. From Spain to Uzbekistan and Australia, these locations prove that haunting lore is sometimes rooted in very real, and often terrible events.

Shahr-e Gholghola, City of Screams - Afghanistan

photo of  ruins of Shahr-e Gholghola,

The ruins of Shahr-e Gholghola, the City of Screams, in Afghanistan

Dai He/Xinhua via ZUMA Wire

According to locals, ghosts from this ancient royal citadel located in the Valley of Bamyan, 150 miles northwest of Kabul, have been screaming for 800 years. You can hear them from miles away, at twilight, when they relive their massacre.

In the spring 1221, the fortress built by Buddhist Ghorids in the 6th century became the theater of the final battle between Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu, last ruler of the Khwarezmian Empire, and the Mongol Horde led by Genghis Khan. It is said that Khan's beloved grandson, Mutakhan, had been killed on his mission to sack Bamyan. To avenge him, the Mongol leader went himself and ordered to kill every living creature in the city, children included.

The ruins today bear the name of Shahr-e Gholghola, meaning City of Screams or City of Sorrows. The archeological site, rich in Afghan history, is open to the public and though its remaining walls stay quiet during the day, locals say that the night brings the echoes of fear and agony. Others claim the place comes back to life eight centuries ago, and one can hear the bustle of the city and people calling each other.

Gettysburg, Civil War battlefield - U.S.

photo of rocks and trees in Gettysburg

View of the battlefields from Little Round Top, Gettysburg, PA, USA


Even ghosts non-believers agree there is something eerie about Gettysbury. The city in the state of Pennsylvania is now one of the most popular destinations in the U.S. for spirits and paranormal activities sight-seeing; and many visitors report they witness exactly what they came for: sounds of drums and gunshots, spooky encounters and camera malfunctions in one specific spot… just to name a few!

The Battle of Gettysburg, for which President Abraham Lincoln wrote his best known public address, is considered a turning point in the Civil War that led to the Union's victory. It lasted three days, from July 1st to July 3rd, 1863, but it accounts for the worst casualties of the entire conflict, with 23,000 on the Union side (3,100 men killed) and 28,000 for the Confederates (including 3,900 deaths). Thousands of soldiers were buried on the battlefield in mass graves - without proper rites, legend says - before being relocated to the National Military Park Cemetery for the Unionists.

Since then, legend has it, their restless souls wander, unaware the war has ended. You can find them everywhere, on the battlefield or in the town's preserved Inns and hotels turned into field hospitals back then.

Belchite, Civil War massacre - Spain

photo of sunset of old Belchite

Old Belchite, Spain

Belchite Town Council

Shy lost souls wandering and briefly appearing in front of visitors, unexplainable forces attracting some to specific places of the town, recorded noises of planes, gunshots and bombs, like forever echoes of a drama which left an open wound in Spanish history…

That wound, still unhealed, is the Spanish Civil War; and at its height in 1937, Belchite village, located in the Zaragoza Province in the northeast of Spain, represented a strategic objective of the Republican forces to take over the nearby capital city of Zaragoza.

Instead of being a simple step in their operation, it became the field of an intense battle opposing the loyalist army and that of General Francisco Franco's. Between August 24 and September 6, more than 5,000 people were killed, including half of Belchite's population. The town was left in rubble. As a way to illustrate the Republicans' violence, Franco decided to leave the old town in ruins and build a new Belchite nearby. All the survivors were relocated there, but they had to wait 15 years for it to be complete.

If nothing particular happens in new Belchite, home to around 1,500 residents, the remains of old Belchite offer their share of chilling ghost stories. Some visitors say they felt a presence, someone watching them, sudden change of temperatures and strange sounds. The ruins of the old village have been used as a film set for Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen - with the crew reporting the apparition of two women dressed in period costumes - and Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. And in October 1986, members of the television program "Cuarta Dimensión" (the 4th dimension) spent a night in Belchite and came back with some spooky recordings of war sounds.

Gur Emir, a conquerer’s mausoleum - Uzbekistan

photo of Gur Emir (Tomb of Timur) i

Gur Emir (Tomb of Timur) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Chris Bradley/Design Pics via ZUMA Wire

The news echoed through the streets and bazaars of Samarkand: "The Russian expedition will open the tomb of Tamerlane the Great. It will be our curse!" It was June 1941, and a small team of Soviet researchers began excavations in the Gur-Emir mausoleum in southeastern Uzbekistan.

The aim was to prove that the remains in the tomb did in fact belong to Tamerlane — the infamous 14th-century conqueror and first ruler of the Timurid dynasty who some historians say massacred 1% of the world's population in 1360.

Still, on June 20, despite protests from local residents and Muslim clergy, Tamerlame's tomb was cracked open — marked with the inscription: "When I Rise From the Dead, The World Shall Tremble."

Only two days later, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, with the people of Samarkand linking it to the disturbing of Tamerlane's peace. Amid local protests, the excavation was immediately wrapped up and the remains of the Turkish/Mongol conqueror were sent to Moscow. The turning point in the war came with the victory in the Battle of Stalingrad — only a month after a superstitious Stalin ordered the return of Tamerlane's remains to Samarkand where the former emperor was re-buried with full honors.

Gamla Stan, a royal massacre - Sweden

a photo of The red house of Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden

The red house of Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden


After Danish King Kristian II successfully invaded Sweden and was anointed King in November 1520, the new ruler called Swedish leaders to join for festivities at the royal palace in Stockholm. At dusk, after three days of wine, beer and spectacles, Danish soldiers carrying lanterns and torches entered the great hall and imprisoned the gathered nobles who were considered potential opponents of the Danish king. In the days that followed, 92 people were swiftly sentenced to death, and either hanged or beheaded on Stortorget, the main square in Gamla Stan (Old Town).

Until this day, the Stockholm Bloodbath is considered one of the most brutal events in Scandinavian history, and some people have reported visions of blood flowing across the cobblestoned square in early November. A little over a century later, a red house on the square was rebuilt as a monument for the executed — fitted with 92 white stones for each slain man. Legend has it that should one of the stones be removed, the ghost of the represented will rise from the dead and haunt the streets of Stockholm for all eternity.

Port Arthur, gruesome prison - Australia

a photo of ort Arthur Prison Settlement, Tasmania, Australia

Port Arthur Prison Settlement, Tasmania, Australia

Flickr/Eli Duke

During its 47-year history as a penal settlement, Port Arthur in southern Tasmania earned a reputation as one of the most notorious prisons in the British Empire. The institution — known for a brutal slavery system and punishment of the most hardened criminals sent from the motherland— claimed the lives of more than 1,000 inmates until its closure in 1877.

Since then, documented stories have spanned the paranormal gamut: poltergeist prisoners terrorizing visitors, weeping children roaming the port and tourists running into a weeping 'lady in blue' (apparently the spirit of a woman who died in childbirth). The museum even has an 'incidence form' ready for anyone wanting to report an otherworldly event.

Poveglia Island, plague victims - Italy

a photo of Poveglia Island, Italy

Poveglia Island, Italy

Mirco Toniolo/ROPI via ZUMA Press

Located off the coast of Venice and Lido, Poveglia sadly reunites all the classical elements of a horror movie: plagues, mass burial ground and mental institute (from the 1920's).

During the bubonic plague and other subsequent pandemics, the island served as a quarantine station for the sick and anyone showing any signs of what could be Black Death contamination. Some 160,000 victims are thought to have died there and the seven acres of land became a mass burial ground so full that it is said that human ash makes up more than 50% of Poveglia's soil.

In 1922 a retirement home for the elderly — used as a clandestine mental institution— opened on the island and with it a fair amount of rumors involving torture of patients. The hospital and consequently the whole island was closed in 1968, leaving all the dead trapped off-land.

Poveglia's terrifying past earned it the nickname of 'Island of Ghosts'. Despite being strictly off-limits to visitors, the site has been attracting paranormal activity hunters looking for the apparition of lost and angry souls. The island would be so evil that some locals say that when an evil person dies, he wakes up in Poveglia, another kind of hell.

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