Clinton invokes female trailblazer

April 6, 2008 5:35:01 PM PDT
Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton laid claim Sunday to Montana's famed female trailblazer ? Jeannette Rankin, who in 1916 became the first woman ever elected to Congress.

"Remember, Jeannette Rankin was elected before women could vote. So who says men don't vote for a woman?" Clinton told an audience crowded into an airport hangar here.

A Republican and lifelong pacifist, Rankin lost her House seat after just one term in part because she voted against authorizing U.S. entry into World War I. She was elected again in 1940 and became the only member of Congress to oppose entry in World War II.

Rankin was also an ardent feminist who championed birth control and women's suffrage.

For her part, Clinton reaffirmed her vote to authorize the U.S. invasion of Iraq, saying she believed at the time it was a vote to send in weapons inspectors rather than to launch immediate military action.

"I'm more than willing to be held accountable for it, because that's the way it is life. You are judged on your actions," she said.

In another nod to her status as the only woman candidate in the field, Clinton noted it took her more time than her male counterparts to prepare for a day on the campaign trail.

"Do you realize how much longer it takes for me to get ready than my opponents?" Clinton said. "I think I should get points for what I do, plus having to spend so much time getting ready."

Montana's primary is June 3.