ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Democrat Barack Obama, determined to win over female voters, talked Monday about the women who helped shape his life in arguing that he would be a better proponent of equal pay than Republican John McCain.
The presumed Democratic nominee toured a bakery and chatted with female workers about their economic challenges.
Sen. Obama told how he was raised by a single mother and his grandmother, who made sacrifices to support their family. He told them that Sen. McCain opposed legislation earlier this year that would have made it easier for women to sue their employers for pay discrimination. Obama supported the bill.
"I'll continue to stand up for equal pay as president _ Senator McCain won't, and that's a real difference in this election," Obama said.
McCain has said he supports equal pay for women but had said the measure would lead to more lawsuits.
Obama also said he would expand the child care tax credit, increase funds for after-school programs and expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover small businesses with as few as 25 employees.
Later during a question-and-answer session with about 30 women, Obama said he constantly questions the balance of work and family in his life.
"I'm away from my daughters all the time, and I'm away from my wife all the time," Obama said. "And so I'm always comparing, 'OK, is what I'm doing _ running for president or even being president _ worth the sacrifice of not being with my family?'"
Since he clinched the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this month and Hillary Rodham Clinton abandoned her bid, Obama has praised her most often in the context of what her campaign did for women, often mentioning his two daughters as examples of those who will benefit from the barriers she broke.
Women supported the former first lady by just 7 percentage points in the Democratic primaries, though Obama managed to win majority backing from females in a dozen states and tied Clinton in four others. The real distinction was by race: White women preferred Clinton by 24 percentage points, while black women backed Obama by nearly 70 points.
Obama again praised Clinton as a trailblazer on Monday, saying the nation has come closer to one where women have equal opportunities "because of the extraordinary woman who I shared a stage with so many times throughout this campaign _ Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton."
His campaign also announced the location of his first appearance with Clinton. The former foes will campaign together on Friday in Unity, N.H. The name evokes the candidates' desire to unite the party, and the place is symbolic, too _ each candidate received 107 votes there on Jan. 8, when the state held its primary that Clinton ultimately won.
Obama was following his New Mexico stop with an appearance in Las Vegas on Tuesday. The Illinois senator has set those states and Colorado in his sights as potential battlegrounds in the election against McCain. The three Western states were once Republican strongholds, but Democrats sense opportunities to win there this year.