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Clinton Wows SF Business Crowd

by Sari Staver
Saturday Apr 1, 2017

In her first major speech since losing the presidential election, Hillary Clinton gave a sharp critique of the current administration's treatment of women at the annual conference of the Professional BusinessWomen of California, held at Moscone Center Tuesday, March 28.

Without mentioning President Donald Trump by name, Clinton - who received a standing ovation when she stepped onto the stage in her black leather pantsuit - said that the representation of women in the current administration "is the lowest in a generation."

In her hourlong presentation, Clinton, a former first lady, senator, and secretary of state, was outspoken in her criticism of the treatment of women.

Clinton cited the heated exchange earlier that day between White House press secretary Sean Spicer and April Ryan, a correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, when Spicer reprimanded Ryan for "shaking her head" while he was speaking.

Ryan, one of the few black women journalists in the White House press corps, "is a respected journalist with unrivaled integrity and was doing her job ... when she was patronized and cut off when trying to ask a question," Clinton said.

Clinton also called out Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly for his "racist joke" when he said that Representative Maxine Waters' (D-California) hairstyle looked like a "James Brown wig."

"Too many women ... have had a lifetime of practice taking precisely these kinds of indignities in stride," she said.

"But why should we have to?" she asked rhetorically. "Any woman who thinks this couldn't be directed at her is living in a dream world."

Clinton also discussed the need for better paid family leave policies, with a cursory mention of the importance of "including the LGBT" community in such proposals.

"As a candidate for president, I put out a comprehensive plan" for legal changes on family leave. "I don't expect you to remember that," she said.

"In fact, there was a recent study showing that none of my plans were really publicized or talked about, so that gives me something for speeches for at least a decade," she quipped.

While the former presidential candidate did not offer any details about her plans for the future, she did say she would "never stop speaking out."

In remarks tailored to her northern California audience, Clinton called on Silicon Valley to improve diversity and inclusion, but praised Salesforce and the Gap as companies "making real commitments to employees" on equal pay and paid family leave.

She also mentioned Uber's recent sexual harassment scandal, saying, "For some women, the hostility is even more direct, like the Uber engineer who spoke out about her experiences" with sexual harassment.

"It's a cruel irony that stereotypes and bias run rampant at companies that pride themselves at being forward-thinking," she said, referring to the experience of Susan Fowler Rigetti, a former software engineer at Uber whose blog post about harassment went viral last month.

Clinton said she was "appalled" to see the much-circulated photo showing an all-male group of Republican lawmakers last month negotiating women's coverage in health care legislation, noting a social-media parody of it that showed an all-dog panel deciding on feline care. And last week's collapse of the GOP health care bill, she said, was a "victory for all Americans."

Clinton thanked the organizers of PBWC for the opportunity to address such an "inspiring" audience, noting that the organization was founded by Representative Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) who was also scheduled to speak but had to remain in Washington, D.C. to attend a House Intelligence Committee meeting.

"There is no place else I'd rather be than here with you," she told the enthusiastic audience. "Other than the White House."

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