Broad Appeal

By Kelly Moeller

Jun 16, 2008 10:11am

Both Sens. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, and John McCain, R-Ariz., had women on their minds this weekend.

Obama gave a provocative speech on Father’s Day (watch HERE) in which the first major-party African-American presidential candidate gave some tough love to the black community, specifically on the epidemic of fatherlessness. There were any number of interesting dynamics at play here, but one of them is Obama telling dads — specifically black dads — to grow up and start acting like men.

It’s a message with some appeal to women voters, Obama’s push that single moms need help from government and from dads as well.

But McCain is not giving up women voters, who tend to vote Democratic, without a fight.

In a conference call Saturday, McCain praised Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, hoping to pick up some of her disappointed supporters. "I’m told that Senator Clinton inspired millions of young women in this country," McCain said, adding that she "inspired a whole generation of young Americans in this country."

He cited Clinton, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman and Sandra Day O’Connor as role models for women. He did not mention the highest ranking Republican woman in government, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, or the highest ranking woman in the U.S. Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif..

McCain said that women "are still vastly under represented" in government — on the Supreme Court, in the House and Senate. "I just want to assure you with confidence, at the end of my first term you will see a dramatic increase in women in every part of the government," he said.

The Gallup Poll Daily tracking has Obama with a significant lead among women voters right now, with 54% to McCain’s 38% (McCain takes men, 50-44).

Lately Democrats have been trying to make much hay about a fundraiser once scheduled for McCain by former Texas gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams, who in 1990, when inclement weather delayed his cattle roundup here, compared the bad weather to rape. "If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it,’ he said. The comments were later used against Williams in an ad from his Democratic opponent, eventual winner Ann Richards. (Watch HERE.)

Williams later said, "I feel just terrible about this. Rape is one of the most violent types of crime we are faced with today and will be met with a firm hand if I’m elected governor. Once again, I apologize from the bottom of my heart."

ABC News’ Rick Klein broke the news of this fundraiser Friday, which the McCain campaign first said it was canceling but now appears to be rescheduling for a later date. Democrats are now calling upon McCain to return the $300,000 Williams has raised for him.

“The only thing more insulting than John McCain’s willingness to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign cash raised by Claytie Williams is his  attempt to get away with it by simply changing the venue of his fundraiser," said Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan. "It’s clear that John McCain is more concerned with dealing with a ‘perception problem’ than in condemning these despicable remarks or in living up to the straight talk reputation he brags about."

So…does that mean the Obama campaign won’t have anything to do with former comedy writer Al Franken, the Democratic Senate nominee in Minnesota, who is currently under fire for a rape joke he made in 1995?

- jpt

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