Wednesday, June 18, 2008

McCain, Obama and Women

Senator John McCain is working hard to portray himself as the candidate best suited to support women and women's causes. He has been crisscrossing the country trying to win over Senator Hillary Clinton's supporters. Most of them are solidly behind Senator Barack Obama, but some of them have gone over to the McCain camp. Maxine Schwartz, 39, of Westfield, New Jersey, told National Public Radio that she went from being a Clinton to a McCain backer because she thinks McCain is a stronger supporter of Israel: "Israel's security is an issue is for me. Either president will secure the United States, but as far as being an ally and friend of Israel, I think McCain is the right person, not Obama."

Israel's security may not be the top issue on the minds of most ordinary American women, but Schwartz is certainly not alone in switching her support from Clinton to McCain. A minority of Clinton's supporters are still stinging from her defeat in the primaries earlier this month. McCain is doing his best to win them over with statements like this one: "Every place I go, I'm told Sen. Clinton inspired millions of young women in this country — and not necessarily young women — inspired a whole generation of young Americans in this country. So I admire and respect her."

Polls show that Obama has stronger support among women than McCain. But a Chicago Tribune report today (June 18) indicated that McCain's aggressive recruiting efforts are making a dent in America's suburbs, where support for him is on the rise with women. So while Obama maintains an edge over McCain, he should not (and most likely will not) take it for granted.

The same Chicago Tribune article said that Clinton voters support Obama over McCain by a 3-1 margin. It quoted former Clinton supporter Lorraine Marino on Obama: "He manages to be strong and clear, but he pulls that off while being inclusive and listening to opposing views. I admire how he approaches problem-solving."

Like McCain, Senator Obama has been stepping up his appeals to women voters. He is taking the issue seriously. He also effectively countered McCain's drive when he noted, "I think John McCain is going to have trouble making the case, when on almost every single issue that's important to women, he's been on the wrong side. You know, he is in favor of judges who would overturn Roe v Wade. He has opposed equal pay. He has opposed the CHIP (health care) program that would make children insured. He has opposed efforts to protect women against some of the discrimination that they experience in the workplace. You know, that's not going to be a track record that I think is going to be very appealing to women."

But Obama needs to tell American women something that McCain is not saying. He has to reassure them that they are not simply the "issue of the day." So far, all indicators appear promising for Obama. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll last week showed that women favor Obama over McCain by 52 per cent to 33 per cent. My question is: Can we have the election tomorrow? And can we ban men from voting? Women had to wait an awfully long time to vote in America. Universal woman suffrage was not in place until 1920. I say it's time for a little payback.

No comments: