Barack Obama is continuing his effort to court women voters, with a fundraiser, new television ad, and a coordinated event with Hillary Clinton this week.
On Wednesday, Clinton and vice presidential nominee Joe Biden will co-host an online video conversation with "women across the country," in which the two Senate veterans and Pennsylvania natives will address topics that the Obama campaign is hoping to hit home: equal pay for women and reproductive health.
The event is one facet of a broader effort by Obama to create distance between John McCain and the female voters who either support him or are thinking of backing his ticket. As the Huffington Post reported earlier, Obama and his aides laid out their strategy during a conference call Monday with national women leaders: focus on McCain and the issues; forget Palin and the daily media flare-ups.
In addition, Women for Obama and the DNC's Women's Leadership Forum have scheduled a "National Issues Conference" in Chicago to raise money for the campaign, and senior female Democratic lawmakers will hold an event later this week pressing the campaign's themes.
Also on Monday, Obama's campaign unveiled a new advertisement aimed at women voters. The spot, which was first reported by the New York Times, criticizes John McCain for his failure to support equal pay legislation.
"Today many women work to help support their families but are paid just 77 cents to a dollar a man makes," says the female narrator. "It's one more thing John McCain doesn't get about our economy. He opposed a law to guarantee women equal pay for equal work, calling it too great a burden on business... A burden on business? How about the burden on our families."
It is a strong attack, one that Obama's female backers have been hoping to see since the announcement of Sarah Palin as McCain's VP. And within hours, the McCain campaign, hoping to protect the inroads they have made with women voters had responded.
"Barack Obama says he's for equal pay for women, but women working in his Senate office earn an average of $9,000 less than men," wrote spokesman Brian Rogers. "By contrast, women in John McCain's Senate office actually earn an average of nearly $2,000 more than men. The American people understand that real leadership for the change we need is all about what you do, not just empty words."
(The wage disparity for women in each office, it should be noted, has nothing to do with gender discrimination. Rather, McCain has a greater number of female employees in senior positions.)
That the campaigns would spar over this turf is indicative of just how fluid the female vote has become. Prior to the selection of Palin, Obama had been performing well, by historical standards, among this large voting bloc. Now, according to a recent Newsweek poll, he finds himself trailing.
Clearly, the campaign sees ground to regain. "Don't wait for our call," Obama told the prominent Democratic women on Monday. "I need you to talk to your colleagues get on the radio, write op-eds in the newspapers, talk about what is really at stake in this election."