I've been on enough campaigns to know well how quickly the narrative changes. Yesterday's morning -- after quarterbacking of the first presidential debates gives way to today's encouraging job numbers and likely another story entirely by Monday. But if there is one thing to be said coming off of Wednesday's debate and heading into the vice presidential debate: talk about women. Explicitly, specifically, deliberately, and again and again. Because the Obama administration and congressional Democrats have much to be proud of, while the Romney/Ryan ticket has a lot to answer for, when it comes to issues that matter to women and their families and that motivate women to vote.
As a campaign manager, I know you win by focusing on the next step. So my message to President Obama and Vice President Biden in the weeks ahead is to take every opportunity to speak to independent women voters about the things that matter to them. EMILY's List has been talking to these women -- true independents, in battleground states -- all year and here's what they've told us:
- Nearly seven out of ten independent women voters see the cuts in the Ryan Budget to programs like Medicaid and Medicare as a reason not to vote Republican.
- 65 percent of them found Republican plans to reduce Social Security benefits and raise the retirement age a convincing reason not to vote Republican.
- 70 percent found the Republican tax plan to cut taxes for millionaires while raising them on working families a convincing reason not to vote Republican.
In focus groups, women were pretty candid with us. When we told them about the Republicans' attempt to block the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which 71 percent of them said was a convincing reason to not vote Republican, one woman spoke for millions across the country when she asked, "What is this, the Stone Age?"
And, as we all know, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first bill the president signed and a strong first step toward equal pay for equal work, was quite literally just the beginning. With the support of congressional Democrats, President Obama's first term has been a sea change for women and their families, from fair pay, to an historic expansion of access to health care. By re-electing the president -- and sending him a strong caucus of pro-choice Democratic women in the House and Senate like Val Demings, a former police chief from Orlando running for Congress, and Elizabeth Warren, who is running against Scott Brown in Massachusetts and can help ensure that Democrats continue to control the Senate -- we ensure that the future remains bright for women.
The president and Democrats running down the ticket need to remind voters that we don't want to turn back to a darker time for women and families with by electing Romney, Ryan, and the Tea Party Republicans who support them. A time when more women died of preventable diseases and fewer women could support their families on a fair salary. A time where some rapes were considered worse than others, and fewer women were protected from the pain of domestic violence.
The choice is very clear for American women. The president, vice president, and all Democratic candidates must make sure that voters -- especially women -- understand what's at stake in this election so that they can choose a better future for themselves and their families.