John McCain today hosted a nationwide telephone forum in tandem with Carly Fiorinia, his ambassador to women. This forum is the latest effort by his campaign in their full court press to lure former supporters of Hillary Clinton.
According to today's Boston Globe:
John McCain is aggressively targeting former supporters of Hillary Clinton, hoping to capitalize on their dissatisfaction with presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama and anger over how Clinton was treated during the Democratic primaries.
More from the Globe:
On Thursday night, Fiorina spoke to dozens of disgruntled Clinton supporters in Columbus, Ohio, and next week she plans to visit a number of battleground states to speak to women voters.
The campaign is betting that even women who favor abortion rights may be willing to accept a difference of opinion on that issue if they like what they hear McCain saying on broader issues such as national security, the economy, and healthcare.
Barack Obama is also planning to court those same voters. NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund will soon be raising awareness among women voters about McCain's long record of opposing abortion rights.
According to the Globe report:
Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which is running a $10 million grass-roots campaign to recruit 1 million voters for Obama in battleground states, today will kick off a weeklong series of more than 400 house parties across the country. Yesterday the group unveiled an Internet ad highlighting McCain's record on abortion rights and other health issues that it plans to send to 3.5 million of its supporters and the antiwar group MoveOn.org., urging each recipient to forward the ad to five people.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, said yesterday that even the most disaffected Clinton supporters are unlikely to defect to McCain, whose views on abortion and other reproductive health issues are diametrically opposed to Clinton's and Obama's. McCain favors overturning Roe v. Wade, the US Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, then working to reduce the number of abortions and eventually end them.
But the McCain campaign thinks otherwise.
Women are not single-issue voters," said Crystal Benton, a campaign spokeswoman. "The issues we're hearing from them that matter most are economic prosperity, national security, and choice and portability in healthcare, which puts Senator John McCain in position to fight for each one of their votes."
After a town hall meeting in New Jersey yesterday, McCain repeated his effusive praise for Clinton and acknowledged he had "a lot of work to do " to reach female voters.
"I believe that women all over America need to be assured that I will do everything in my power to continue the progress that has been made in equal opportunity in America, and that means an emphasis on education, that means service to country, and it means providing the same job security that all Americans deserve," he told reporters.
Polls released this week showed the candidates with mixed results among women. In a Gallup tracking poll conducted June 5-9, Obama increased his lead over McCain among women from 5 percentage points to 13 percentage points since Clinton conceded a week ago. But an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey showed that while Clinton led McCain by 14 percentage points among suburban women, Obama trailed by 6 percentage points.
Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh of the Dewey Square Group in Boston said the Obama camp should be concerned about the state of the women's vote after a primary that dismayed many Clinton supporters. McCain does not need a majority of women to win the election, she noted, he just has to chip away at Obama's share of the women's vote. Women typically make up a majority of voters in presidential elections.
"I think in this case, there are several threats - Hillary Clinton supporters who may go to support John McCain; Hillary Clinton supporters who may not vote at all, and Hillary Clinton supporters who do nothing between now and November except cast a vote," she said. "Any combination of these things is something to worry about if you are Barack Obama."
This week, several prominent female Clinton supporters issued clarion calls for unity. Ellen Malcolm, president of EMILY's List, which funds female candidates who support abortion rights, presided over a conference call in which she called McCain "out of touch" with women's lives.
At the group's annual luncheon both she and former secretary of state Madeleine Albright urged women to get behind Obama.
And many Clinton supporters, angry and defiant, are not being swayed.
Women for Fair Politics, a group of Clinton supporters in Ohio angry about what they saw as pervasive sexism in the primary campaign and determined to "never let it happen again," hosted Fiorina Thursday night. Two of the group's cofounders, businesswoman Cynthia Ruccia and real estate agent Marilu Sochor, said yesterday that they planned to vote for McCain this fall, even though they were both longtime Democratic activists and strongly in favor of abortion rights.
"It doesn't matter to me if we have all the great things the Democrats can offer if it's OK to go ahead and denigrate 51 percent of the country," Ruccia said in a telephone interview. "Sexism is neither Democratic nor Republican, and it needs to stop."
Sochor said she was also outraged at how Obama had, in her view, alienated key components of the Democratic base during the primary season by not campaigning much in Appalachian states such as West Virginia and Kentucky and by characterizing small-town Pennsylvanian voters as apt to "cling to guns or religion" because they were "bitter" about their circumstances.