House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and dozens of female Democratic lawmakers rallied around Barack Obama on Wednesday at the start a weeklong effort by his presidential campaign to highlight women’s issues.
With the selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as Republican John McCain’s running mate, Pelosi and other Democrats sought to shift attention back to the top of the Republican ticket.
“In this election, women have the most to gain with Barack Obama and have the most to lose with John McCain,” Pelosi said at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.
During the news conference, the Alaska governor’s name was mentioned no more than a couple of times, as the female lawmakers highlighted the Illinois senator’s support for equal-pay legislation for women, his record on women’s health-care issues and McCain’s support for privatizing Social Security.
“John McCain’s efforts to bridge the gender gap are about as effective as the ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’ ” said Rep Linda T. Sanchez (D-Calif.).
Asked about Palin’s effect on the presidential race, the Democratic speaker from San Francisco declared: “This election is a choice between John McCain and Barack Obama. And they have very different views on the value of work and the work of women.”
The Democratic women also sought to play down any rift between supporters of Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom he defeated for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), who initially supported Clinton, said she now “unequivocally” supports Obama. And several other women at the event who had supported Clinton, raised their hands and shouted out, “Me too.”