Bill Clinton Loves Women in Politics

Bill Clinton returns to Arkansas and talks up women in politics and the 2008 race.

By + More

By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

If the topic is politics and women and the venue Arkansas, then the talker must be Bill Clinton. That's where our Suzi Parker caught up with the 42nd president today during his whirlwind tour of the state he used to govern. Clinton, who's slated to appear on Larry King Live tonight, started the day's series of speeches by talking about women in politics. Honoring an old friend given the Lindy Boggs Award, which highlights the year's Southern woman in politics, Clinton focused on his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and her 2008 presidential bid.

"I want to bring you greetings from my favorite woman in politics who, as you all know, is secretary of state [and] is now in Japan doing the world's work for America over there," Clinton said, before reminiscing about the 2008 primary and the progress of women in politics. "I had a little bite of that apple last year, trying to convince people that women should be in higher executive positions," he said. "I learned something very interesting one more time about the process of social change and how the wheels of history grind slow or, as Martin Luther King said, the arc of history bends slowly, but it bends toward justice. Psychologically, we're sometimes not even aware of how we feel about letting women make decisions that used to be made by men until we actually have to come up against it," said Clinton.

Case in point: Hillary Clinton's failed bid against the nation's first African-American president. "I'll tell you a very interesting thing in the state where Hillary ran best—next to Arkansas: West Virginia. She won the [state primary] election by 40 points, but in the exit polls, people were asked about Hillary and President Obama. 'Does it bother you to have an African-American president?' 'Do you have any reservations about having a female president?' Fifteen percent of West Virginians admitted that they had some qualms about having an African-American president; 21 percent said they had some qualms about having a female president. That's in a state where she won by 40 points."

Check out more of the new Washington Whispers.