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A Democrat's View: Why Women Should Vote For Obama


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. The 2012 presidential election looks very close right now. So, eking out a few points of daylight between the candidates is very important, and there are key groups both sides want to court - Hispanics, white-collar workers, the youth vote, and, of course, women. This week, the Obama campaign is hosting two summits for women voters in Florida. Debbie Wasserman Schultz who is chair of the Democratic National Committee and the congresswoman for Florida's 20th District is at both meetings. And she joins us from Miami. Congresswoman Schultz, thank you for taking the time to speak with us.

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

WERTHEIMER: We've been looking at political polls, obviously, and one poll which is out this weekend puts President Obama slightly ahead in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. You think that's going to be enough?

SCHULTZ: Well, you know, this is, obviously, going to be a very close election. We have just three months until Election Day and we know that our grassroots campaign is going to make sure that through people power, Barack Obama is going to be able to be re-elected as president of the United States because women know what's at stake in this election.

WERTHEIMER: But when you look at the insides of these political polls, the innards of the polls, they do show that the president is running behind Mr. Romney with white women, with married women. Why aren't you doing better with those women?

SCHULTZ: Well, I think that overall, President Obama has a wide gender gap for a reason. The overwhelming majority of women in this country understand that Barack Obama has been a president that has made the issues important to women a priority, like equal pay for equal work, like making sure that young people have an opportunity to pursue the dream of a higher education and that that education could be affordable. Thanks to Barack Obama, this past week, we were able to make sure that women have access to lifesaving preventative care, like mammograms and colonoscopies and well-women visits and birth control, so that it's possible for them to stay healthy, rather than only accessing the health care system when they're sick. Mitt Romney thinks that we should get rid of Planned Parenthood funding and family planning funding. Mitt Romney thinks that it's OK for insurance companies to drop you or deny you coverage for pre-existing conditions. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He wants to overturn Roe versus Wade.

WERTHEIMER: OK. You've given us a sort of the speech, the campaign surrogate speech, talking points...

SCHULTZ: It's not a speech. I'm not giving you talking points or a speech. Those are the facts. Look, President Obama inherited the most problems at once of any president since FDR, and the worst economic recession that we've ever experienced since the Great Depression. So, I think Americans clearly understand that this problem didn't occur overnight and getting us out of this economic mess that he inherited from the previous administration won't be solved overnight. But we know that we're making progress. We know that we've had 29 straight months of job growth in the private sector. We know that we've had a resurgence in the manufacturing sector for the first time since the 1990s. We know that the stock market has been thriving under Barack Obama's presidency. And so I think that Barack Obama deserves credit for moving us forward. We know we have a long way to go. You know, Barack Obama's not satisfied with how far we've come. We got to push harder. But, you know, I think that most Americans agree that we could do even better if the Republicans cared more than one job. They care about Barack Obama's job.

WERTHEIMER: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She is chair of the Democratic National Committee. She represents Florida's 20th District. Thank you very much.

SCHULTZ: Thank you, Linda. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.