I'm a Montanan, so I've always liked my space. We're believers in freedom out in the West, and we can get prickly when people threaten what's ours. So it's interesting that tonight, when Republicans debate their proposed limitations on our rights, they'll do it in the West. And I'm thrilled to be here in Nevada, in these wide open spaces, to see it.
Nevadans aren't known for being the shrinking-violet type. Women and men are raised independent and tough, knowing that to make it in this tough environment, women and men work together to survive. It was like that when this land was settled and it still is. All you have to do is look at a ballot out here to see proof that women are standing up for their values and fighting against the GOP agenda. Almost every statewide office is occupied by a woman and Shelley Berkley is running one of the biggest Senate races in the country.
Tonight, seven Republicans who want to lead this country will stand on stage right here in Nevada to plead their case. With the exception of Michele Bachmann, they will all be men. Including Michele Bachmann, they will all support policies that amount to nothing short of a war on American women.
You probably won't hear too much of that tonight. Just like we didn't hear too much of that last election. Remember when Republicans promised -- way back in 2010 as you headed to the polls -- that they would focus on job creation? That economic recovery would be their number one priority?
They pulled a bait-and-switch on the voters. Immediately after taking office, the Republicans we elected to create jobs began a single-minded campaign to restrict the rights and freedoms of American women.
The very first bills they introduced all focused on reducing access to women's health care. Instead of creating jobs, Republicans went to work eliminating funding for family planning, trying to close clinics that provide cancer screenings and birth control, and systematically taking away women's choices.
But Republicans did not tell voters last time around that would be their agenda. And I doubt you'll hear it this time either.
Tonight, the candidates on stage will not discuss the bill passed just last week by the House -- dubbed the "Let Women Die Act" -- that would make it legal for hospitals to allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion if it would save her life. They won't mention their attempts to redefine rape so that some are legally "worse" than others. They definitely won't discuss how their bills clear a path for IRS audits of victims of rape and incest.
The Republican agenda is nothing more than a cradle to grave assault on the freedoms women hold dear and the programs they rely on.
Candidates tonight probably won't talk about wanting to end Medicare as we know it -- and if they do, they won't mention that over 65% of Medicare recipients are women who use it to keep themselves and their families healthy. They won't mention that the cuts they're pushing to public sector workers disproportionately affect women, who make up 90% of our country's elementary school teachers, and 95% of our nurses.
Republicans who want to be president would be wise not to mention their party's systematic war on American women. But they wouldn't be honest.
Voters were sold a phony bill of goods last time around -- and we won't be fooled again. Women who stayed home in 2010 are now engaged in this debate like never before.
There are two sides to every war, and American women are fighting back. We know the best way to combat the Republican agenda is to send more Democratic women to Washington. In 2011 alone, we've already sent two new Democratic women to Congress, and we're poised to send a third.
In 2012, a record number of Democratic women are running for the Senate, including Shelley Berkley right here in Nevada. And they're running to represent the Americans who aren't getting a fair deal under Republicans like Dean Heller, and Joe Heck. You remember, the guys who promised to create jobs.
So tonight, listen to what the candidates aren't saying: how will their proposals affect women and their families? And if, like me, you're concerned that their out-of-touch agenda will mean it's even harder for women to protect their financial security, and their health, and their freedoms -- then consider going to the polls next November to send a few more women to Washington who'll have our backs. It isn't just the Montanans who'll thank you. The rest of America tends to believe in freedom, too.