Women’s Wear Daily
04.17.2014
textiles
textiles

Industry Shifts Toward Democrats in Race for White House

Fashion industry executives are voting with their wallets this presidential primary season, getting behind Democrats, particularly New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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To some, Clinton's positions, such as providing universal health care and skepticism of free trade, don't define their support as much as her Senate record, her support of women's rights and her self-assured public persona.

"Hillary Clinton...would make a great president," said von Furstenberg, who has given the maximum individual contribution to Clinton for the primaries and general election. "She is a fantastic senator....I believe she cares, is very smart and experienced. The fact that she is a woman is a plus."

Similarly, Miller said Clinton's resilience has reinforced her support.

"I think she is a very dynamic and sensitive person," said Miller, who gave $2,300 to Clinton in the third quarter.

Miller said Clinton's biggest obstacle to the presidency is being a woman and convincing voters she is qualified.

For Konheim, support of presidential candidates hinges on whether they appear capable of "breaking the cycle of incredible knee-jerk partisanship."

The industry veteran, who backed Giuliani when he was mayor, believes there are two candidates he could support: Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a surprise Republican contender who has recently raised significant campaign funds but is a long shot for the nomination.

Konheim has given the maximum amount, $2,300, to Romney and Paul heading into the primaries, but he hasn't settled yet on one candidate.

"What I really like about Romney is his track record as an executive," said Konheim, citing his experience as president and ceo of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics and as governor of Massachusetts. "He's got good ideas about how to reorganize the government so it is runnable and people are held accountable. He's got a real studied, ceo approach."

How a candidate's policies may help or hinder the fashion business is not as important as whether the person can engender confidence, Konheim said.

"The thing that really makes a difference in the general overall business is confidence," Konheim said. "If everybody feels confident, then everybody feels like going out and spending and we're in good hands. The second there is no confidence [in the president], everybody plays it tight to the vest and that is what is going on now."
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