On the October 28 edition of the NBC-syndicated Chris Matthews Show, during a discussion of the Democratic presidential candidates' stances on Iran and other national security issues, BBC Washington correspondent Katty Kay said that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) “has to be able to stand up and appear particularly tough, because she's a female candidate.” Kay added: “I think there's a lot of reticence still about how tough a woman would be as commander in chief. I don't think she can afford to stand up there and be soft on this particular issue [Iran].” Kay's comments echoed those she made on the September 30 edition of The Chris Matthews Show, when she asserted that Clinton's “calculation is that she can't stand up there as a woman and sound soft” and claimed that Clinton “knows that as a Clinton and as a woman, she's got to come across as somebody who is prepared to use military action if it's needed.”
However, Kay's claim that “there's a lot of reticence still about how tough a woman would be as commander in chief” is not borne out by polling data -- at least with regard to Clinton. A July 9-17 CBS News/New York Times poll found that 58 percent of respondents said they believed Clinton would be an effective commander in chief and 75 percent believed Clinton is a “strong leader.” Further, while the poll of registered voters asked if they “have confidence in Hillary Clinton's ability to deal wisely with an international crisis” or if they are “uneasy about her approach” -- finding that 52 percent were “uneasy” and 42 percent were “confident” -- 68 percent believed that Clinton would be somewhat likely or very likely to “make good decisions in dealing with foreign countries.”
From the October 28 edition of the NBC-syndicated Chris Matthews Show:
MATTHEWS: Let's go to the Matthews Meter on that, because that's a very pertinent question. We asked 12 of our panelists, “Will a hawkish position against Iran be a winner in the general election next year?” Eight say it's a political plus to stay hawkish and refuse to rule out a military attack, and four say the hard line is a political loser. I'm amazed Katty.
KAY: I think for somebody like Hillary Clinton, she has to be able to stand up and appear particularly tough, because she's a female candidate. I think there's a lot of reticence still about how tough a woman would be as commander in chief. I don't think she can afford to stand up there and be soft on this particular issue.
And I think it's interesting what's happened to her recently is that she's almost become the center position. She's got Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney on the right of her sounding even more hawkish, she's got Barack Obama and John Edwards on the left of her. And you have the centrist candidate, which turns out to be Hillary Clinton.
MATTHEWS: Jennifer [Loven, Associated Press reporter], we've seen all this before; it's called triangulation. The Clintons have once again together come up with a formulation that allows them to leverage their own party's liberalness, and the right party's conservatism and they say we're the reasonable center.