Bloomberg News

Obama Lauds ‘Quiet Hero’ Working Mothers in Appeal to Women

November 09, 2011

(Updates with Obama quotes in second, ninth paragraphs.)

Nov. 9 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama called working mothers who balance family and jobs “quiet heroes” as he highlighted efforts his administration has made on their behalf.

“We know that it’s up to us to keep fighting for them -- all those women out there -- making sure that they are treated fairly and equally, as hard as they’re working, as much as they’re sacrificing, as many responsibilites that they shoulder each and every day, we’ve got to make sure that they are getting the opportunities that they deserve,” Obama said in an address tonight to the National Women’s Law Center, a legal advocacy organization based in Washington.

Obama used an appearance at the group’s annual dinner to appeal to a constituency that helped propel him to the presidency in 2008.

With less than one year to go before the next presidential election, economic growth slow and Obama’s job approval at 43 percent in the most recent weekly Gallup Poll, he is seeking to rev up support among women to re-establish his winning coalition.

He said the world “is fairer and more equal” than when he last spoke to the group in 2005 as U.S. senator.

Obama highlighted his appointments of women to prominent positions, including the nominations of Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.

“Today, for the first time in history, our daughters can see not one, not two, but three women sitting on the bench of the highest court in the land,” he said.

Legislative Goals

He also cited passage of a law that makes it easier for women to sue employers for wage discrimination and provisions in the health-care overhaul he backed. The health law bans deductibles for preventive services used by women such as mammograms, and beginning in 2014 forbids insurance companies from charging women more than men for health coverage.

He used the occasion to criticize his Republican opponents in Congress, who he said are “focused on turning back the clock” by seeking repeal of the health-care law and take funding from Planned Parenthood.

Women voters have been a core constituency for Democrats for decades and a majority supported Obama in his 2008 presidential campaign. Since then, polls show Obama’s support among women has dropped, though he continues to receive stronger backing from them than among men.

Support From Women

In the 2008 election, 56 percent of women voters cast their ballots for Obama, according to exit polls. By the 2010 midterm election, women’s national support for Democratic House candidates dropped to 48 percent, the first time Republican House candidates outperformed Democrats among female voters since 1982, when exit polls began measuring support for congressional candidates.

In the Gallup Poll for the week ended Oct. 30, 48 percent of women approved of Obama’s job performance compared with 39 percent of men.

While the recession’s job losses hit men the hardest because of the impact on construction and manufacturing, women’s progress in the economic recovery has been hindered by budget cuts in state and local government jobs disproportionately held by women.

The 8.5 percent unemployment rate among women in October was lower than the overall national unemployment rate of 9 percent. Still, women’s joblessness is up from 4.9 percent at the start of the recession in December 2007 and from 6.9 percent when Obama took office in January 2009.

--With assistance from Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington. Editors: Joe Sobczyk, Jim Rubin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Dorning in Washington D.C. at mdorning@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net.


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