Positions on women’s issues won over the crowds at the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton campaign rallies in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Jan. 30, but voters remain divided on who is most qualified.
As each candidate rallied their crowds to support equal pay and women’s reproductive rights freedom, people were on their feet and cheering more for the issue than any other. Regardless of age, gender or ethnicity each crowd vocalized their support. Positions on women’s rights are competitively similar between the two candidates. However, Sanders supports worried about Clinton’s sincerity and trustworthiness on the issue and overall. While Clinton supporters believed she is the best candidate because she is a woman who can personally relate to women’s issues.
23-year-old Drew Stevens attended the Bernie Sander’s rally with intent to caucus for the candidate. He says language is the most important indicator to understand how a candidate views women. Stevens says he notices conservative candidates’ lack respect for women, which he finds off-putting . In addition, Stevens says he thinks there are noticeable differences in compassion between the two Democratic candidates.
“My opinion on Hillary, is that she doesn’t feel strongly about the things she says she does – she just says them to get the endorsement,” Stevens says. “I think Bernie genuinely cares about women’s health and women’s rights. Among my friends who are Bernie supporters, and those that aren’t, we think he is the most sincere candidate. He genuinely wants to help, [as] opposed to just [obtaining] an office or [obtaining] more power.”
51-year-old Shannon Ellis from Cedar Rapids says his most important issue is which candidate is the most believable to him. Ellis says he plans to caucus for Sanders because he things he is believable who demonstrates this characteristic in his everyday campaign tactics. He says he thinks women need a leader who will protect them so they can have an opportunity to do their best.
Ellis says he believes Clinton’s disadvantage is her believability.
“Young people don’t believe her, even myself and my friends don’t believe her,” Ellis says. “I’ve seen the whole process and I don’t know if I’ve ever believed what’s been said. They’ve always been involved in some sort of scandal.”
Other voters were less concerned about Hillary’s damaged reputation and trust.
62-year-old Sandy Galer has supported the Clinton family for years. Galer served as an Iowa caucus volunteer for Bill Clinton during one of his presidential campaigns. She says she has supported Hillary for a long time because she has a history advocating for women and children’s rights.
When asked about Hillary Clinton’s perceived lack of trust after some of her career decisions, Galer referenced the scandal about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state. She says her opinion wasn’t affected by the scandal. Galer says she served in the military and she knows the ever-changing environment that comes with Hillary Clinton’s job.
“I’ve been in the military and I know one thing you can’t second guess what someone does when they’re in that situation,” Galer says. “I think people don’t understand sometimes, who haven’t been in the military about security and how things work at that level. Things change, it’s very fluid all the time.”
Galer says she believes Clinton will be the right candidate for protecting women’s issue rights.
“Hillary is a person who will stand up and tell people that women are important, Galer says. “We don’t need people in the doctor’s office with us telling us what we need to do with our reproductive rights.”
Some caucus voters weren’t as divided between the two candidates on women’s issues. Recently, Hillary Clinton secured an endorsement from Planned Parenthood, adding to her campaign on the issue of women’s rights. 31-year-old Monica Slaughter says she is caucusing for Sanders but regardless of the candidate she believes it is important that the candidate supports what Planned Parenthood does.
“I think Planned Parenthood is an organization where… I know I made it through law school because [of] Planned Parenthood providing free birth control services,” Slaughter says.
Slaughter says that she thinks Hillary has an advantage over Sanders because she is a female who understands the female body. However, she said for her this isn’t enough to sway her vote.
“If someone’s main focus is female reproductive rights than their candidate will be Hillary,” Slaughter says. “So yes I think he could be disadvantaged in the women’s vote but that assumes that the most important issue is planned parenthood and reproductive rights. For me, it’s not..I think she’s out of tune on other issues.”
Mamonaté Nyane, originally from Lesotho, a country in southern Africa, says she has experienced the difficulty a minority and single mother faces in obtaining health scare access. She says her main concern is women with young children and the support they receive. Nyane says she thinks Hillary Clinton will be the candidate to ensure that support.
“I definitely believe so, I think she is the only one who has experience, the only one who worked for the kids, the only one who understands because she’s a woman and a grandmother, Nyante says. “She is the most qualified person right now.”
Revisions and additions were made to this article on February 1, 2016 for quality and accuracy purposes.