Democrats tonight will showcase women in Congress and running for office, a move that may appeal to voters concerned about comments from Missouri Republican Todd Akin that “legitimate rape” rarely leads to pregnancy.
At least 28 women will take the stage, from actress Eva Longoria to women’s rights activist Lilly Ledbetter to Caroline Kennedy. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California is leading a presentation of women in the U.S. House of Representatives tonight at 7 p.m. at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Included will be Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Carolyn Maloney of New York, Nydia Velazquez of New York, Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania and U.S. House candidates Joyce Beatty of Ohio and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, all Democrats. Pelosi will speak again at the convention tomorrow, also at 7 p.m.
“Women have the most to gain” by President Barack Obama’s re-election and the “most to lose” if he doesn’t win, Pelosi told a meeting today of the DNC Women’s Caucus.
Representative Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, the first openly gay woman to serve in the U.S. House, will have a prominent speaking role on the last day of the convention, Sept. 6. Baldwin is running for the U.S. Senate.
“It is nice that Democrats have so many women to choose from,” Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “Women across the country are so proud that Pelosi was the first-ever woman speaker -- the respect she holds today is undiminished.”
The Republican National Convention last week presented a roster of women speakers in the aftermath of comments made by Akin, a Missouri congressman who is trying to unseat Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. She isn’t attending the Democrats’ convention this week, saying she wants to focus on her campaign.
Akin said Aug. 19 in a television interview that “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” so a rape exception to a ban on abortion isn’t necessary. Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who has described himself as a defender of women’s rights, called Akin’s remarks “outrageous” and joined other party leaders in trying to pressure Akin to drop his Senate bid.
“The Democrats have had an advantage for a long time as a result of policy as much as anything,” Julian Zelizer, a history and public affairs professor at Princeton University, said in an e-mail.
Women, who represent 52 percent of the U.S. electorate, prefer Obama over Romney by an 8 percentage-point margin, according to Gallup daily tracking polls conducted July 30 through Aug. 19.
TV Prime Time
So far, the women in Congress aren’t scheduled to appear in the 10 p.m. time slot, carried by the TV networks. The schedule is still being finalized and women speakers could deliver their remarks in prime time, Democratic officials said.
There are 5,556 delegates and 407 alternates at the convention in Charlotte, according to Alice Germond, the Democratic National Committee secretary. Half of the delegates are women, which Germond called “pretty darn special.”