The presidential debates have provided sound bites from President Obama and Governor Romney when they discuss women’s issues. But what do the candidates’ official websites reveal regarding what they believe on issues of equal rights, women in the workplace, or equal pay?
SEATTLE — Women make up half of the electorate and their opinions are valued because they vote in greater numbers in all presidential elections. Both candidates take opportunities on the campaign trail and in the debates to highlight their support of women and women’s issues. But when I examined the presidential candidates’ official websites I immediately noticed a tone difference.
Let’s start with Governor Romney.
The Romney website emphasizes issues such as foreign policy, the economy, and taxes (see first image below). Romney’s big economic initiative is his 5-point jobs plan – a tactical move given how the economic recovery continues to move slowly.
Now on to President Obama.
The Obama website focuses on the economy, health care, and education – and he offers specific links for women and seniors (see image below). Obama clearly wants to attract the female voter.
Upon closer inquiry of the issues on both websites, you find that women’s issues are more prominent on Obama’s site. When you click on the Women link, you are directed to a page with Lilly Ledbetter’s incredible story on top of the page, and a list of women’s issues follow, such as health insurance discrimination, birth control, protecting access to Planned Parenthood, and protecting women’s rights. The very first law President Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and his campaign is proud to promote this fact.
On Romney’s site you cannot find a “women’s issues” link at all. The closest to women’s issues you can find is the “Values, marriage, family” link, which is buried under All Issues. This page explains in detail that the Romney ticket is “pro-life” and that the Romney presidency would reverse Roe v. Wade through electing Supreme Court Justices who oppose it. The page continues to explain why Romney is against stem cell research and gay marriage. There is nothing about women in the workplace, equal rights, or equal pay.
Issues that women like me are concerned about are serious issues. They are all “our” issues. Women make daily decisions regarding their families, major purchases, and health care choices. These decisions have an impact on our communities, our schools, the work place, and the economy.
When asked about equal pay at the last debate, President Obama expressed that women’s issues were family issues that impacted everyone in one way or another. Romney shared the story of how he tried to get more women into leadership positions in Massachusetts State government while Governor. (He may have taken more credit for this than was fair.) While explaining his past actions on women’s issues, Romney inadvertently created an overnight meme — Binders full of women — but in my opinion he never actually answered the question.
The bottom line for women is economic: fair pay, decent benefits, and good preventive health care enable us to be more attentive mothers, heads of household, spouses, and leaders in our communities.