By Cindy Richards
Thursday, April 20, 2000
The Year of the Woman appears to be oh so long ago as to be nearly forgotten. Both presidential candidates appear to be unworried about the women's vote. But women who are worried about the candidates positions, read on.
The Year of the Woman appears to be oh so long ago as to be nearly forgotten.
To date, neither of the two presumptive presidential candidates, Republican George W. Bush nor Democrat Al Gore, has taken aim directly at the women's vote. Spokespeople for both candidates, however, maintain they have women-friendly platforms and have no need to worry about their support from women.
Mindy Tucker, press secretary for Bush, said that exit polls indicate her candidate already is getting heavy support from women-so strong that she believes any gender gap in 2000 could favor Bush over Gore.
Janet Murguia, national constituency director for Gore, took exception to the contention that her candidate has neglected women during the primaries.
"I don't think we're waiting at all to reach out to women. There's a lot been done behind the scenes. We're talking about people trying to make distinctions that aren't relevant between what are and what are not women's issues. We believe that mainstream issues affect women," Murguia said
"I'm convinced that women will be the swing vote in the general election," she added. "They will make the difference in who becomes president. They always do."
Yet, polls indicate that so far neither candidate has reached women voters. In fact, it is a safe guess that campaign 2000 will bear little resemblance to 1992's Year of the Woman.
Poll results released March 13 by the Shorenstein Center at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government indicated that women are more likely than men to "express disgust" with the nation's politics. Another recent poll, conducted in January by the Lifetime cable channel, suggested that women did not believe the candidates were talking about the issues that are important to them.
Abortion, the issue most likely to be classified as a "women's issue," is one of the few that has gotten any political attention during the sometimes contentious primaries.
Gore and Bush offer a clear choice on choice. Bush, who claims the mantel of "compassionate conservative," is pro-life and would allow abortions only in the case of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Gore, who rang up a pro-life voting record in his early years in Congress, said in a March 1 Democratic debate in Los Angeles that he has "always, always, always" supported Roe v. Wade. As president, Gore said, he would "defend a woman's right to choose, regardless of her economic circumstances."
Certainly, there is a cadre of women for whom abortion is a bottom line question-on both sides of the issue. But when pollsters ask women what issues draw them to one candidate or another, they say they want to know a candidate's stand on a host of issues other than abortion. Among them: education, health care, aid to working families, Social Security, guns and violence.
Culling through each candidate's positions, as posted on their campaign web sites, here is what can be ascertained about their current positions on these issues:
Bush has pledged to ensure there is "no child left behind." His campaign platform calls for beefing up Head Start and requiring states to offer voucher