August 19, 2008 – Senator Barack Obama reached out yesterday to two key groups of voters – veterans and women – who could prove crucial in the November election.
Campaigning in New Mexico, a possible swing state in November, Obama highlighted his support and proposals for equal pay and economic security for working women. The Democrat has pledged to increase civil rights enforcement, raise the minimum wage, and push paid leave and flexible work schedules.
“When I hear women are being treated unfairly in the workplace, where there’s injustice, and there’s not the basic principle of equal pay for equal work, I get mad. I get frustrated,” Obama told about two dozen working women gathered in Albuquerque’s main library. “My daughters – I don’t want them to ever confront a situation where they are disadvantaged because of their gender. The thought of it makes my blood boil. That’s what we’re fighting for.”
As part of the equal pay push, convention organizers announced that Lilly Ledbetter, the Alabama tire plant supervisor whose case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, will speak at the party convention next Tuesday. She won a $3.3 million judgment after a jury ruled that she was treated unfairly, but an appeals court overturned the award, saying she had filed her claim too late. The high court upheld that decision.
“Lilly Ledbetter’s case before the Supreme Court has once again awakened the nation to this discrimination, and it’s time we join together to right this wrong and pay women equal pay for equal work,” Obama said in a statement.
Also yesterday, Obama’s campaign launched “Next Generation Veterans for Obama,” a group of service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, to help guard his flank against attacks on the war and national defense from Republican rival John McCain. The group will play a prominent role at the Democratic National Convention next week in Denver and appear at events across the country, Obama’s campaign said.
While McCain was a prisoner of war during Vietnam, Obama has not served in the military. His campaign, however, says the issue is who has the best national security policy going forward.
Obama’s campaign said more than 14,000 military personnel and veterans have donated to Obama and cited a study released last week by the Center for Responsive Politics that said that deployed military personnel donated six times more money to Obama’s campaign than to McCain’s.
“We all respect John McCain for his incredible courage in Vietnam, but this election is about who will be the best president to lead our country in the 21st century. That person is clearly Barack Obama,” Phillip Carter, an Iraq war veteran and the campaign’s national veterans director, said in a statement. “This election is one of the most important elections in a generation, and veterans and their families have a lot at stake. We want to make sure that the next president understands the threats facing this country and will make the right decisions about war and peace.”