Obama Suggests Sexism Is Stopping Men From Supporting Clinton

“I want every man out there to kind of look inside yourself.”

John Minchillo/AP

President Barack Obama posed a tough question to the men attending his speech in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday night: Is sexism stopping you from supporting Hillary Clinton for president?

It’s clear from his comments that the president believes that a suspicion of ambitious women is hampering Clinton. “You know, there’s a reason why we haven’t had a woman president before, and I think sometimes we’re kind of trying to get over the hump,” Obama said. “I want every man out there who’s voting to kind of look inside yourself and ask yourself: If you’re having problems with this stuff, how much of it is, you know, that we’re not just used to it?”

Obama continued, “When a guy’s ambitious and out in the public arena and working hard, well that’s okay. But when a woman suddenly does it, suddenly you’re all like, ‘Well, why’s she doing that?’ I’m just being honest. I want you to think about it because she is so much better qualified than the other guy. She has conducted herself so much better in public life than the other guy. This notion that somehow it’s hard to choose, it shouldn’t be.”

Clinton and her campaign have shied away from suggesting that people are voting against her because she’s a woman. But Obama appears to be making the case for her. In an interview on comedian Samantha Bee’s show Full Frontal earlier this week, he suggested that people would try to discredit Clinton, if she becomes president, with sexist tropes about women: “She’s tired. She’s moody. She’s being emotional.”

“When men are ambitious, it’s just taken for granted,” he told Bee. “‘Well, of course they should be ambitious.’ When women are ambitious: ‘Why?’ That theme, I think, will continue throughout her presidency, and it’s contributed to this notion that somehow she is hiding something.”


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

  • Pema Levy

    Pema Levy is a reporter at Mother Jones. Reach her at plevy [at] motherjones [dot] com.