Entries in Women (32)


Obama Talks Football, Gender Issues, Taxes Before Super Bowl

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As the nation geared up for the Super Bowl XLVII matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, President Obama said he stood by his recent comments that as a parent he’d hesitate allowing his children to play football and that he viewed the contact sport differently in light of recent heightened national awareness of its health dangers.

In a pre-Super Bowl interview with CBS’ Scott Pelley, the president reiterated what he’d told the New Republic.

“It is a great sport, I am huge fan, but there is no doubt some of the concerns that we have learned about when it comes to concussions have to give parents pause,” he said.  “And as I said before.  I feel differently about the NFL, these are  grown men, they are well compensated, they know the risks that are involved.  But as we start thinking about the pipeline, Pop Warner, high school, college, I want to make sure we are doing everything we can to make the sport safer.”

The president admitted it may mean less drama for those “those of us who like to see a big hit,” but also acknowledged NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s recent commitment of $30 million to the National Institutes of Health to accelerate research into the bodily effects of the contact sport.

Capitalizing on the massive audience for the Super Bowl -- more than 111.3 million tuned in to watch last year and the game receives the highest viewer ratings of any broadcast -- each year, Obama has granted a game-day interview to whichever network airs the National Football League championship.

In a news cycle dominated by national debate on immigration reform and gun violence, Pelley on Sunday asked Obama about some topics that have received less attention, including military women in combat roles and whether the Boy Scouts should allow gay members into their organization.

In January, the Pentagon announced it would lift a long-standing ban on women serving in combat.  Pelley asked Obama if he had any hesitation as commander in chief in ordering female service members into harm’s way.

“I don’t,” Obama replied.

“Women as a practical matter are now in combat, they may not be treated as such, but when they are in theater in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, they are vulnerable, they are wounded and they have been killed, and they have carried out their jobs with extraordinary patriotism, and distinction,” he said.

The president said he’d met women soldiers who could do “anything that a man can” and that they should not be prevented from “advancing in an institution we all revere.”

Meanwhile, later this week, the Boy Scouts of America will convene to decide whether to allow members of the LGBT community out of their ranks.  Continuing his long-held stance, the president reiterated they should be allowed entry.

“My attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunities, the same way as everyone else does, in every institution and walk of life,” Obama continued.  “And you know the Scouts are a great institution, that are promoting young people and exposing them to opportunities and leadership that will serve people for the rest of their lives.  And I think nobody should be barred from that.”

The interview also touched on the fallout of the negotiations from the debt ceiling, in which the president signed legislation through Congress that raised taxes on annual household income over $450,000.  Pelley asked Obama whether he could promise not to raise rates again in his next term.

“There is no doubt we need additional revenue coupled with smart spending reductions,” Obama replied, reiterating his past stance on reduction of healthcare costs and closing tax loopholes.  He said the tax system needed to be “fair and transparent,” noting the average American couldn’t take advantage of loopholes or offshore accounts.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Gingrich, Santorum on Women in Combat: Infections, Emotions

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Wednesday’s announcement that women will be allowed to serve in combat was hardly the first time the subject has come up.

When it cropped up during the Clinton administration, it drew opposition from the likes of then House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who offered a now-infamous medical assessment of why it was a bad idea to let them fight.

“Females have biological problems staying in a ditch for 30 days because they get infections, and they don’t have upper body strength,” The New York Times quoted Gingrich as saying in early 1995.  Men, on the other hand, ”are basically little piglets; you drop them in the ditch, they roll around in it.”

More recently, Rick Santorum caused a minor controversy by bringing “emotions” into it.

“I do have concerns about women in front line combat.  I think that could be a very compromising situation where, where people naturally, you know, may do things that may not be in the interests of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved,” he told CNN in February 2012, in the heat of the GOP presidential primary.

He later clarified.

“I was talking about men’s emotional issues; not women,” Santorum told ABC soon after.  “I mean, there’s a lot of issues.  That’s just one of them.”

Opponents of women serving unrestricted have always risked offending their political adversaries, regardless of whether their words blow up into controversy.

“What I think was most troubling to us was less the comments of pundits and more the policy in place,” said one attorney who has pressed the Pentagon on female service, saying the combat-service ban sent a “message that … women were somehow less than” male soldiers.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Female Senators Say They’d Already Have ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Solved

Martin H. Simon / ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- With 20 days to go until the nation goes over the so-called fiscal cliff, some female senators say if they were in charge, Congress would already have a deal.

“I think if we were in charge of the Senate and of the administration that we would have a budget deal by now,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told ABC’s World News anchor Diane Sawyer Tuesday.

In an exclusive joint interview, Sawyer sat down Tuesday on Capitol Hill with the historic class of female senators of the 113th Congress. When the new Congress is sworn in on Jan. 3, there will be a record-breaking 20 female senators – four Republicans, 16 Democrats -- in office.

As President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio., work to negotiate a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff — the slate of abrupt tax increases and steep spending cuts are set to take effect at the start of the year — there was near-unanimity among the female Senators Tuesday that they’d be able to broker a deal faster themselves.

“What I find is with all due deference to – deference to our male colleagues, that women’s styles tend to be more collaborative,” Collins said.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said by nature women are “less confrontational and more collaborative,” – both traits necessary to reach a deal to avoid the country going over the fiscal cliff.

“Having us in the room– and I think– you know, all of us, not only do we want to work in a bipartisan way, we do it,” McCaskill said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Record-Breaking Number of Women in Senate Promise Bipartisan ‘Collaborative’ Spirit

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The 113th Congress will have a record-breaking number of female senators, the most in history. And it has created a less auspicious historical footnote.

“We had the first traffic jam in the United States history in the women’s Senate bathroom, history has been made,” Klobuchar said Thursday. “Five women, five at once.”

The issue of bathrooms on Capitol Hill is more immediate than you might think. It was just one year ago that women serving across the building in the House of Representatives finally got a women’s restroom just off the House floor. There has been a women’s restroom near the Senate chamber since 1993.

Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., the “dean” of women in the Senate, has been the senator from Maryland since 1987 and was in the House for 10 years before that.  When she first came to the Senate, long before the restroom was installed, there were two women in the Senate. Come January, there will be 20.

Mikulski Thursday hosted her annual bipartisan “Women Power Workshop” for all current and incoming senators-elect who are women.

Retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, who has been advising some of the incoming female senators, said that the women in the Senate, no matter their party, have a “collaborative spirit” and help each other on “getting through the Washington morass.”

“I think they’ll find that it is nice to have the ability to talk to other women because some of them have children and the age-old question of, 'Do you live in Washington with your children, but not in your home state?' Or, 'Do you live in your home state and commute?' And it’s a hard, hard decision and so I’ve been giving insights on that as one of the things that we do.”

Five new female senators will join the ranks next year, all of whom were present at Thursday’s workshop, Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; and Deb Fischer, R-Neb.

There are a record number of women in the House of Representatives this year, too. That’s a point Nancy Pelosi made on Wednesday when she held a press conference on a stage packed with every Democratic woman in the House.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Exit Polls: Obama's Winning Coalition of Women and Nonwhites

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A coalition of women and nonwhites helped re-elect President Obama to a second term Tuesday night.

Obama has always performed better with women than with men, and with nonwhites than with whites.  But on Tuesday night, those numbers were so much in his favor that they built Obama a powerful firewall against a dropoff in support from white men and independent voters.

Nonwhite voters turned out to vote in higher numbers than ever.  They made up 21 percent of all voters.  In 1996, they were just 10 percent.

That new bloc was evident in Florida, the perennial swing state that was thought to be in Mitt Romney's corner.  Hispanics came out in force for Obama, in greater numbers than in 2008 when Obama beat John McCain among Hispanics in Florida 57 to 42 percent.  On Tuesday, he beat Romney among Hispanics 60 to 39 percent.

And as the country tinted blue for the second presidential election in a row, it also got a little less white.

White voters made up only 72 percent of the electorate in this election, according to exit polls.  That's still a majority, but it's the lowest in exit polls dating from 1976.

Romney won the white vote handily, 58 to 40 percent, the biggest lead for a Republican since 1988.

Romney's most reliant bloc the whole campaign was white men.  He led by 25 points with them on Tuesday.  But in 1976, white men were 46 percent of voters.  Today, they're at a new low, 34 percent.

If white women had stayed in Romney's camp, those swing states -- Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire -- might have moved into his column.  Instead, Obama led among women by 12 points, nearly identical to his lead among women four years ago.

In Florida, Obama led Romney by just two points among independents, according to the exit polls.  In 2008, that number was seven.

In Ohio, Romney leads Obama by 10 points among independents -- a significant number considering that in 2008 Obama had an 8 point lead over McCain in Ohio among the same nonaligned voters.  But women came to Obama's rescue, keeping him competitive.  Exit polls showed Obama with a 12 point lead among women, more than his 8 point lead in 2008.

In Wisconsin, a state that Romney needed badly, Obama's one-time strength among independents appeared to be neutralized.  He won independents there by 19 points in 2008, but preliminary polls now show that Romney fought to a draw with them.  However, Obama prevailed among young voters, and other voters there said they favored the auto bailout by 51 to 40 percent, an issue that the president held over Romney in the Midwest.

Obama lost just a few independents in Iowa, but more than made up for it by winning over women, who picked the president over Romney by a double-digit margin.

In Virginia, Romney won independents by 53 to 41 percent.  Four years ago, Obama and McCain tied among independents in the commonwealth.

Just like white men, independents make up less of the electorate than they did four years ago.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Paul Ryan Courts Women After ‘Binders Full of Women’ Comment

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(OCALA, Fla.) -- The courting of female voters has intensified since Mitt Romney and Barack Obama’s debate Tuesday, with the candidates pivoting to focus on women after Romney’s “binders full of women” comment, as well as some waffling by a Romney senior adviser on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan was even asked about jobs for women at his town hall in Ocala, Fla., Thursday.

In a steamy town square, Ryan was asked by a female attendee if his ticket had “any plan in place for jobs specifically for women.”

He immediately answered much as his running mate has in the past: “Get the economy growing, number one.”

Tuesday night, Romney was asked about equal pay for women. He answered that when he became the governor of Massachusetts he got “binders full of women” when he made a “concerted effort” to find qualified women for his cabinet. The comment quickly became an Internet joke, and also has put the GOP ticket in a corner, trying to persuade women a Romney administration would serve their interests best.  The Republicans have been hammered by both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on the campaign trail about the comment. Ryan even mentioned his ticket’s support for women Wednesday when he stumped with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In Ocala, Ryan blasted the president on both the stimulus and funds that have gone to green energy. Then he said, “Over five million women have just left the workforce. Fewer women are working today than when (Obama) took office. And so of the people who have been hit the hardest, it’s women.”

Ryan then talked about job skills and training and how that can help women seeking employment.

“Now, what we need is a growing economy that gives people more flexibility in their schedules, what we need is the ability to get people -- we have point two of our five-point plan is our jobs training benefits,” Ryan said, adding that states should customize their own job training programs “to meet the unique needs of women.”

“What so many women need is the ability to have flexibility,” Ryan said. “Especially if you’re women with children, you want to have flexibility to have the kind of a job that gives you the ability to meet all of your needs and your family. That’s what job training skills are all about, that’s what growth is all about.”

Ryan said, “Most women get their jobs from successful small businesses,” and promised a Romney-Ryan administration would help grow those businesses, which he said are more flexible about many women’s schedules.

“We’ve got to champion small businesses which are the kinds of companies that have flexible job schedules that women can get easily back in to the workforce. Most people don’t get their jobs from the really big corporations, they get their jobs from successful small businesses,” Ryan said. “And of all the things we can do to get women back into the workforce, get them the skills they need, get an economy, and help those small businesses bring them back into the workforce so they can provide for themselves and their families.”

Ryan never mentioned pay equity; the questioner in Ocala did not either. However, after the debate, the Romney campaign also wavered on the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act with Romney adviser Ed Gillespie first telling reporters after the debate Romney “was opposed to” the proposed legislation “at the time,” but would not repeal it once in office. The next day Gillespie said he was wrong, and Romney “never weighed in on it,” and if Romney became president he would not repeal it. In Congress, Ryan voted against the Ledbetter Act.

On Thursday, Ryan said his job in the House of Representatives has “always been to listen to our employers.”

“Mitt Romney and I are applying for a job,” Ryan said. “You are our employers. We the people run the government not the other way around. The government works for the people. The government doesn’t run the people.”

Polls in Florida have Obama and Romney in a dead heat in the crucial state. It’s why Ryan is spending two days there, much of it on the critical I-4 corridor across the middle of the state. On Thursday, Ryan held a fundraiser and campaign event in the Ft. Myers area; he also reached out to Iowa voters, holding a tele-town hall with them in the afternoon. He will continue to campaign in Florida Friday, including a joint event with his running mate in Daytona Beach.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Biden Knocks Romney for Binder Comment, '1950s Time Warp’ on Women

T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images(GREELEY, Colo.) -- Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday hammered away at Mitt Romney over women’s issues, saying the former Massachusetts governor is living in a “1950s time warp” and mocking his reliance on “binders full of women” to find qualified women to serve on his cabinet.

“You heard the debate last night,” Biden told a crowd of more than 1,000 at the Island Grove Regional Park Exhibition Hall in Greeley, Colorado. “When Gov. Romney was asked a direct question about equal pay, he started talking about binders. Whoa! The idea that he had to go and ask where a qualified woman was, he just should have come to my house. He didn’t need a binder."

“For good measure, Romney said, on multiple occasions, that he wants to get rid of Planned Parenthood,” Biden added. “Look, talk about being out of touch. It’s not just the Swiss bank accounts and the Cayman Islands. No, really isn’t. It’s more than that. That I understand him doing. I can’t understand someone running for president doing [it], but I can understand him doing it. … But what I can’t understand is how he has gotten in this sort of 1950s time warp in terms of women.”

Biden continued to criticize Romney’s stance on equal pay, saying “he didn’t answer the question” when asked about it during Tuesday night’s debate and noted a Romney adviser said the Massachusetts governor did not support the The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which countered pay discrimination based upon age, religion, national origin, race, sex and disability.

“His senior adviser said last night in -- they call it the spin room -- when Romney was asked about, when they’re asked about did Romney support Lilly Ledbetter, which is just basic, minimal justice, he said Romney would have vetoed it.”

The vice president lauded President Obama’s performance at Tuesday’s presidential debate at Hofstra University in New York, calling the president a “man of principle, a man of gumption, a man with a steady hand and a clear vision.

“That’s what America got to see last night,” he said. “And I am telling you, it’s presumptive of me to say as vice president, but I am proud of him.”

Biden pointed out that Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., have shied away from offering specifics in the past three debates.

“Gov. Romney was a little, how can I say it -- sketchy?” Biden said. “No details, no specifics. But folks, that’s not new. We’ve now had three debates. Gov. Romney twice, Congressman Ryan once -- and the answers are always the same: ‘Maybe. It depends. We’ll let you know after the election.’ Folks, these are the only guys I’ve ever heard, out of any guys I’ve ever met, who thought that not telling you now, but telling you after the election, constituted leadership.”

While he delivered his normal criticisms of Romney and Ryan’s tax plan and creating incentives for companies to invest overseas, Biden focused heavily on immigration, saying Romney’s stance on the issue shows he’s “out of touch with the American people.”

“They support the action taken by the president to lift the cloud of deportation off a million kids that were brought here -- as if they’re going to say, at 2-years-old, ‘Mom, I don’t want to cross that border. Leave me behind, Mom. That’s what I want to do,’” he said. “And now, these guys are talking about these bright young kids and going to send them home. Home? Home? This is home. This is home. America is home. They didn’t choose to come here, but they chose to do right by America, and the president believes it’s time to do right by them.”

Biden ribbed Romney for his suggestion that undocumented immigrants should self-deport.

“Self-deportation?” he asked. “Whoa. Every 13-year-old, get up and move, man.”

Biden, who was campaigning alongside Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., has visited Colorado five times as vice president. But Wednesday’s trip marked his first visit of 2012. Biden encouraged Colorado voters to vote early and assured them that a victory in Colorado will win Obama and Biden the election.

“Folks, we need you, because together we can win Colorado -- and we win Colorado, we win this election,” Biden said. “So let’s go. Let’s stand up. We’re going to win. Let’s move forward. God bless you all and may God protect our troops.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Campaign Wavers On Lilly Ledbetter Act

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Less than 24 hours after Tuesday night’s debate, a top adviser to Mitt Romney’s campaign switched his statement about whether the Republican presidential candidate would have supported the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act before it was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2009.

Speaking to reporters after the debate at Hofstra University in New York, Romney aide Ed Gillespie said that Romney “was opposed to” the proposed legislation “at the time,” but that he would not repeal it if elected.

Those comments were first reported by the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein, and up until Wednesday night, neither the GOP presidential hopeful nor his campaign had disclosed whether Romney would have backed the fair pay law, which grants alleged victims more time to file suit in pay discrimination cases.

But it appears Gillespie got ahead of the candidate. In a follow-up statement sent to the Huffington Post Wednesday afternoon, he acknowledged that he misstated Romney’s position.

“I was wrong when I said last night Governor Romney opposed the Lily Ledbetter act,” according to the statement from Gillespie. “He never weighed in on it. As President, he would not seek to repeal it.”

Indeed, in an interview this April, ABC’s Diane Sawyer, asked Romney: “If you were president -- you had been president -- would you have signed the Lilly Ledbetter Law?”

“It’s certainly a piece of legislation I have no intend -- intention of changing. I wasn’t there three years ago,” Romney told Sawyer. “I’m not going to go back and look at all the prior laws and say had I been there which ones would I have supported and signed, but I certainly support equal pay for women and -- and have no intention of changing that law, don’t think there’s a reason to.”

Had Romney opposed the law, he would have been well within the mainstream of the Republican Party. The Ledbetter Act passed the House of Representatives in a mostly party-line vote, and Romney’s own running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., voted against it.

In an interview Wednesday morning on CBS News, Ryan shed little light on Romney’s original position, but he explained his own.

“Lilly Ledbetter was not an equal pay law. It was about opening up the lawsuits and statute of limitations,” Ryan said. “It wasn’t an equal pay law, and of course, we support equal pay.”

Romney did not clarify his original position on the bill at Tuesday night’s presidential debate, and his adviser’s attempt to walk back his statement to reporters indicates the Romney campaign is trying to keep it that way.

But the Obama campaign has other plans.

Campaigning in Athens, Ohio on Wednesday evening, the president brought up the Romney campaign’s changing statements on the Ledbetter Act, saying, “Just today his campaign admitted, well, he’s never weighed in on that. What’s so hard about weighing in on that?  Either you believe in equal pay, or you don’t.”

Obama added, “I weighed in on it because it’s the first bill I signed.”

Notably, equal pay for women has not improved significantly during President Obama’s first term, but the Lilly Ledbetter Act has helped some victims of discrimination pursue their compensation claims in the courts, women’s rights advocates say.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Planned Parenthood President: Women’s Issues Are Economic Issues

ABC News(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Women voters may be more concerned with putting gas in the car and having enough money for groceries than they are with reproductive rights and women’s health care.  But Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards, said women worried about their pocketbooks should be paying attention to what Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has planned.

“Issues of access to health care, affordable health care … Planned Parenthood -- that is an economic issue for women,” Richards said on the ABC News/Yahoo News DNC Live Show Wednesday.

Access to basic women’s health care, getting insurance for preventative care for women, she said, “those are bread-and-butter pocketbook issues,” and things that, “Mitt Romney says he’s going to get rid of on day one.”

Democrats may not be making the strong connection between women’s issues and the economy, though Richards said that does not bother her.

“I’m frustrated with people who somehow lump birth control and women’s health care as a social issue,” she said.

Generic birth control can cost as much as $75 per month.

“It’s only a social issue if you’ve never had to get birth control,” she said.  “For women, these are basic issues.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Delegate Mom Fights to Open Democratic Convention Floor to Kids

Hemera/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- When House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was voted in as speaker of the House in 2008, dozens of children, including her five grandchildren, stood on the House floor to witness the event. But when Barack Obama is officially voted in as his party’s presidential nominee at the Democratic National Convention next week, there will be no young children on the convention floor, which is open only to credentialed state delegates.

One mom, Susie Shannon, a California delegate from Los Angeles, is fighting the DNC rules so her four-year-old daughter Gracie can accompany her onto the convention floor.

“It’s either allow children on the floor or provide child care,” Shannon said. "You can’t expect that every single woman who is a delegate can leave their child at home in another city for week and go to the convention.”

Neither the Democratic National Convention nor the Republican National Convention provide any type of child care services, although the DNC does include a list of nearby child care centers in its delegate packet.

RNC spokesman James Davis said children are allowed on the floor of the GOP convention if they have the proper credentials, which “in theory” he said could be given to a 4-year-old such as Shannon’s daughter.

The DNC said it has no plans to add child care services and justified keeping kids out of the delegate seating area for security and capacity reasons.

“Democratic conventions have historically required credentials for all individuals to access the convention hall to ensure the safety and security of all attending,” DNC Committee spokeswoman Joanne Peters said in a statement to ABC News.

While kids are banned from the convention floor, they are welcomed on the floor of the House of Representatives, where members of Congress can bring children under the age of 13 while the House is in session.

Four Southern California chapters of the National Organization for Women teamed up with women’s rights icon Gloria Steinem to condemn the DNC’s policy and call for the party to allow delegates to bring their children with them into the convention voting space.

“Women are the key to a Democratic victory, and sometimes, children are the key to women,” Steinem said in a statement. “It’s both right and smart for the Democratic Convention to behave as if children exist.”

While Steinem is critical of the Democratic Party this week, she was commending its leader for supporting women’s rights.

“He understands that women are absolutely full human beings,” Steinem said of Obama in a video for his campaign.

Shannon, who is on the executive board of the California Democratic Party, said she has brought her daughter along to every state convention for the past four years with no problems. She criticized the “hypocrisy” of the Democratic Party because while it courts women voters on one hand, it is “not providing for the needs of many women” at the convention.

“It’s sort of like a check your baby at the door kind of policy,” Shannon said. “If they want the mom vote and they want moms to participate and they want to say they are speaking for moms, they need to accommodate for them.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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