The campaign to elect Hillary Rodham-Clinton to the presidency was a major milestone for women in the United States. Never before have the women of this nation sent one of their own so far in politics. Senator Clinton's concession of the nomination to Barack Obama is the end of her campaign, not ours. We must continue our work, now to unite the party behind Senator Obama to defeat John McCain. For too long, Senator McCain has avoided the scrutiny from women that his record deserves. Senator McCain is no maverick, and he is no moderate.
The gulf between Senator Obama and Senator McCain on many critical issues could not be wider. Senator Obama joined Senator Clinton as an original cosponsor of the "Prevention First Act." This landmark bill is the most comprehensive family planning bill to date, and its passage would be a huge victory for women. Senator McCain is a stalwart opponent of a woman's right to choose and he has consistently opposed family planning legislation and efforts to make contraception more widely available -- including allowing health insurance to cover birth control. Senator McCain is also an active opponent of sound, science-based, comprehensive sex education, advocating instead "abstinence-only" programs that even Bush administration studies have shown to be ineffective.
Reproductive health is not the only dividing line between the two presidential contenders. Senator McCain voted against legislation to provide health insurance to low-income children, even as six million of those children and their families went without it. Senator McCain was one of only two senators who didn't show up to vote on a bill to ensure that gender-based pay discrimination becomes a thing of the past. Though it was in the midst of the Democratic Primary, Senator Obama was there to vote yes. McCain opposed increasing the minimum wage, he opposed extending health insurance to low-income children, and he wants to privatize Social Security and make the Bush millionaire tax cuts permanent. Senator McCain also wants to continue the war in Iraq for generations.
Senator Obama is with us on our core issues, and Senator McCain is not. For women around the country and the world, a McCain presidency would be no different than a third term for George W. Bush. In these times that cry out for change, we must be strong, we must be united, and we must send Barack Obama to White House. As Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech, "the dreams we share are worth fighting for" -- our daughters are counting on us.