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Obama Can Reach Hillary's Female Loyalists

06/06/2008 07:30 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The news cycle is buzzing with questions about how Obama can capture many of the 18 million Senator Clinton female voters who had their hearts broken on Tuesday. It's important to know that they weren't just upset for Hillary, they were upset for themselves. Many saw Senator Clinton's fight as their fight. Many women saw her tenacity and wished they would have had it when they lost a promotion or job because of their gender. Many saw her outcome as theirs. This loss runs deep.

On Saturday, when Senator Clinton suspends her campaign, we need to listen closely to what she says and how she says it. I'm confident that if Senator Clinton fully and sincerely endorses Senator Obama with her heart and her head he'll not only be able to capture back many of these disillusioned women, but they will become evangelicals for him.

However, he'll need to take note of some of the truths about women's lives and the values women hold dearest. Here's how:

Women value community and connection.

So, Obama needs to:

Activate Obama's women supporters to reach out to Clinton supporters and have open and respectful one-on-one conversations about why Obama will be good for America's women. (When you connect women to each other you strengthen your "brand."

Opt for campaign events at small scale venues, instead of large stadiums, to connect more intimately. (For example: town halls, union halls, community centers, etc.)

Talk more about his mother and the role she had in his life. He was raised by a strong, single mother who had an enormous impact on his life. Women want to see him as a real person, not just a politician. Talking more about his mother will go a long way.

Frame his policies and principles as from the perspective of a husband and a parent of two small girls. Women respect a family man.

Women like to feel part of a movement -- they draw on their movement allegiances and want to see women in leadership positions.

So, Obama needs to:

• Get high profile Clinton supporters to endorse Obama very publicly as soon as possible -- Gloria Steinem, Geraldine Ferraro, Madeline Albright, etc.
• Give a seminal speech on gender much like the one he did on race. Ellen Goodman suggested this and wrote a beautiful version last weekend.
• Have a private meeting with Clinton and leaders of the women's movement to talk about how women will be prominent in his campaign.
• Commit to 1/2 of his cabinet being women. Why not have his advisers reflect the gender make-up of the country? This would show Hillary supporters that he understands the importance of women's leadership in his inner-circle.

Women have a strong predilection for empathy.

So, Obama needs to:

• Continue to communicate the need for change and do it with optimism. If he starts attacking McCain it could really turn off women voters. He needs to communicate his refrain on hope.
• Always be gracious to Senator Clinton. He must never ever do or say anything disrespectful of her.

Obama's having trouble reaching women over 35, and 80% of women over 40 have children.

So, Obama needs to:

• Communicate that he understands that women are often the main caregivers in the family and that they are struggling to work, be mothers and often take care of their parents. He needs to communicate that he understands that this economy is tight for American working families and that women, as 83% of consumers, are forced to make the tough purchasing decisions: gas or food; which soap works best watered down; what medication cant they do without, etc.
• Go on a women/mother's listening tour.
• Continue to use the Web as an organizing tool for women. More women are online and blog than men are so his internet outreach is key. Women are also twice as likely to pass on information -- he can continue to use the web to help raise money and spread the word. Women are key to his viral success.
• Make being involved in his campaign easy.
• Update his Web site to be reflective of women. He should have prominent women endorsements, photos of women and of real people.

I hope the Obama campaign wakes-up every day thinking about the women's vote and not make the mistake of lumping them in as a "niche" audience or think that the only issue they care about is abortion. Women have turned out in higher numbers than men in every Presidential election since 1960. They are the key to this election.