March 3, 2008 — WASHINGTON – One of Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s best-known supporters, feminist author Gloria Steinem, belittled John McCain‘s ordeal as a prisoner of war and the torture he endured as a captured Navy airman.
“I mean, hello?” Steinem told a Texas crowd Saturday night as she was discussing McCain’s captivity by the Viet Cong.
“This is supposed to be a qualification to be president? I don’t think so,” The New York Observer quoted her as saying.
The red-faced Clinton campaign quickly denounced Steinem’s remarks.
“Senator Clinton has repeatedly praised Senator McCain’s courage and service to our country,” campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said.
McCain senior adviser Mark Salter said that the Republican’s 51/2 years in captivity indeed made him more qualified to be commander-in-chief.
“Would you put your country before your own life? Check. Can you perform under great stress? Check. Does it test your courage? Check,” Salter said.
Steinem’s slap at McCain’s service in Vietnam came during a “Women for Hillary” campaign event in Austin on Sunday night.
Her anti-military riff was part of her claim that the press has a gender-based bias against Clinton.
“Suppose John McCain had been Joan McCain and Joan McCain had got captured, shot down and been a POW for eight years,” she said.
“Reporters would ask, ‘What did you do wrong to get captured? What terrible things did you do while you were there as a captive for eight years?’ ” Steinem said.
She went on to slam military experience in general – an unusual tactic in a state with some of the country’s largest military installations.
“I am so grateful that she hasn’t been trained to kill anybody,” Steinem said of Clinton.