NEW ORLEANS — Frustrated that female voters aren’t taking him seriously enough, presidential candidate Barack Obama
delivered a special message to a group of young women who came to a campaign rally with signs that said "Oh mama, I’m in love with Obama" and "Stand Back! I want Barack!"
"Please pay attention to the issues, ladies," Obama said, waving a finger at them. "I am not a sex object."
The women, all students at LSU, seemed undeterred. "I can’t believe he spoke to us," one of them gushed to a reporter. "He’s so cute!"
Said another: "I don’t know what he said to us, but he looked good doing it."
As he attempts to win the Democratic presidential nomination, Obama must convince female voters that he can represent their interests better than Hillary Clinton. Polls show that the majority of women support Clinton, but Obama scores high among young women, who consider him a good candidate partly because of his "great smile," as well as women in their sixties and seventies, who say they want to "pinch his cheeks."
"It’s a race between a man and a woman," said political analyst Joel Klein, "but who would have thought it would be the man who’s being objectified?"
The extent to which Obama is being objectified is unclear, but CNN reporter John King did get some answers during a focus group with several female voters.
"Do you think Barack Obama is electable?" King asked a 60-year-old Illinois woman named Marge Brensinger.
"Electable?" she said. "He’s not just electable, he’s delectable."
"Do you think Obama is qualified to be president?" King asked a 25-year-old Maryland woman named Neeta Gulati.
"Of course," she said. "He looks good in a suit. Damn good."
"But what about the issues?" King asked.
"Well, he voted against the war in Iraq and he’s cute."
"He’s cute? Why is that important?"
"Well, if we elect him president, my friends and I are actually going to watch the State of the Union address. He’s very watchable."
"Very true," Brensinger said. "I could watch him all day."
"What about experience?" King asked a 40-year-old Iowa woman named Jill Stewart.
"I’m sure he’s very experienced," she said. "But you’ll have to ask his wife about that."
Photo by Peter Howe