No Fems Allowed in the Fight Club

What Hillary Can Learn From Ruth's 1997 Campaign Against Rudy

And if there's a guaranteed source of sexism in this city, it's the New York Post, where Mandery says the editorialists and headline writers are "as patently biased" against Hillary as they were against Ruth. For example, consider the Post's recent survey ranking Bill and Hillary among the "most evil" people of the millennium. Consider Andrea Peyser's column last week declaring Hillary a "politically naive," "ditzy," and "stupid" woman who "has not performed one useful function in her adult life."

Finally, consider the recent New York Post/Zogby International poll. Even though last month's New York Times/CBS poll showed the two candidates in a statistical dead heat, and the Post's own numbers showed that Hillary had "slightly trimmed" Rudy's lead, the Post seemed to drive home the "she-can't-win" thesis by leading with the finding that 53 percent of New Yorkers don't want Hillary to run.

Of course, Hillary should never play the sex card herself. Mandery recalls how in 1997, the press got hold of a direct mail letter for women, in which Ruth's campaign accused Rudy of sexism. In response, the Post defended Rudy and admitted that "The Post has on several occasions been compelled to note [Ruth's] divisive and demagogic language. But 'sexism'? Not a trace."

Mandery's final advice: Hit Rudy hard on education and jobs, but never underestimate his ability to stay cool. "We always would figure into our calculation the possibility that he would really fly off the handle and do something that could be interpreted as beating up on a woman," he says. "But Rudy's a very effective campaigner and you need to proceed from that assumption."

ccotts@villagevoice.com

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