Women For Richardson: The Man With The Plan

Martha Burk

Senior Advisor for Women's Issues to the Bill Richardson campaign, Dr. Martha Burk, tells us how Richardson's advocacy on behalf of women goes far beyond what we've come to expect from other candidates.

The YouTube debate on Monday was by far the most interesting to date, for two reasons. The questions were from real people and the video format was entertaining. Instead of having to sit through inane answers to inane questions (e.g. Wolf Blitzer asking all the candidates in the CNN debate "What would you do with Bill Clinton in your administration?"), we got some real substance. YouTubers wanted to know about ending the war, No Child Left Behind, health care, gay marriage, taxes, and Social Security.

As a women's advocate, the most interesting face-off was between Edwards and Clinton over who would be better for women if elected. Not John Edwards – Elizabeth.

She had made the statement that her hubby would be better for the females of the country a week ago, and the two candidates in question were asked about it. John E. gave what my grandmother would call a "cutting bait" answer, not wanting to attack a woman I guess, while Hillary touted her 1995 speech in Beijing calling for international human rights for women. Elizabeth was much more direct in standing by her man in a post-debate interview, flatly stating that he would be better because his health care program is better, and that is of very high concern for women.

Truth is — all three of them are wrong.

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The best candidate for women is Bill Richardson, and he has a very progressive women's policy platform to prove it. Rolled out in New Hampshire on July 16, he gets down to specifics, and it goes far beyond health care. No other candidate has committed as firmly as Richardson on issues that women tell pollsters they care about most:

  • Ending the war polled number one with women going into the last election. Richardson is the only candidate who would get all of our troops out of Iraq immediately.
  • Because of weak law and weaker enforcement, the gender pay gap is still 25 cents, even greater for women of color. Richardson is the only candidate calling for requiring companies to report pay statistics by gender, race, and job category, so women can see if they're treated fairly and employers will clean up their act.
  • Richardson is the only candidate specifically stating he will not nominate Supreme Court justices who do not consider Roe v. Wade settled law.
  • He is the only candidate calling for a caregiver credit in Social Security, so women don't get zeroes for every year spent out of the workforce taking care of children or elderly parents.
  • Unlike Edwards and Clinton (who could actually sign on to the bill but hasn't), Richardson has stated his support for paid family leave as outlined in a bill introduced by Senator Dodd last month.

Edwards is not wrong to say his health care proposal will help women, because almost any plan, including those from other candidates, would improve what women have now.

But low pay and lack of family supports in the workplace contribute to lack of health care, and he does not address these issues in a gender specific way. Bill Richardson does.

Most people believe Hillary is a strong advocate for women, and she undoubtedly is, at least in principle. But when it comes to specifics, Richardson is the candidate for women.

Editor's Note: In an effort to feature blog posts from all of the major 2008 presidential campaigns over the next several months, Rewire is extending invitations to contribute an article or a statement to our Election 2008 coverage.

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