Obama Warms up to Women on the Trail

Jun 23, 2008 9:29pm

ABC News’ Jennifer Duck reports: Sen. Barack Obama made a strong appeal to women in Albuquerque, N.M., today, just days before hitting the trail with Sen. Hillary Clinton.

The one-time Democratic rivals will join forces on Thursday in Washington, D.C., at a fundraiser and appear publicly on Friday stumping in the appropriately named Unity, N.H.

In New Mexico today, Obama was introduced by New Mexico Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, who admitted she was a Clinton supporter before Obama officially clinched the nomination three weeks ago. Obama praised Clinton as an "extraordinary woman" and spoke of an America full of equal opportunities for men and women.

"Standing here today, I know that we have drawn closer to making this America because of extraordinary women like the lieutenant governor and the first lady [of New Mexico, Barbara Richardson] and the extraordinary woman who I shared a stage with so many times throughout this campaign –- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton," Obama said to the small roomful of women. "In the months and years ahead, I look forward to working with her and women across the country to make progress on the issues that matter to American women and to all American families -– health care, education, support for working parents and an insistence on equality."

He criticized Sen. John McCain, his likely opponent in the presidential campaign, who he said does not support a number of policies that are important for women’s rights.

Obama also talked about his "rock" — his wife Michelle, and being raised by his single mother and "Rose the Riveter" grandmother.

But not all women were a quick sell on an Obama presidency. Tough questions were tossed to the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee on healthcare, Pell grants and taxes. One woman asked bluntly if the senator would follow through on his political talking points and get things done.

Obama responded that it is his family who grounds him and explained he wouldn’t run for commander-in-chief unless he knew it was worthwhile.

"I’m always comparing is what I’m doing, running for president, or even being president, worth the sacrifice of not being with my family. And the only way it makes it worthwhile is if I’m actually getting something done. Because if you’re not getting something done then it’s all just vanity," Obama explained.

He launched into his run-ins with fame, saying he’d be OK without the limelight.

"You know, I’ve gotten more than enough attention to last me a lifetime now. I mean if I just kind of pulled back I’d be OK. I’ve done Letterman, I’ve done the ‘Daily Show,’ been on the cover of Rolling Stone."

Transitioning to what he says matters, Obama reached into his pocket and pulled out a number of lucky charms given to him by voters who he said have been "investing their hope" in him.

"This side I usually don’t show in these town hall meetings, but I carry around all these — I have all these things that people give me … all these different little good luck charms that I get handed," Obama said, turning a handful of shiny objects toward the semi-circle of seated women.

Among the charms was an eagle given to him by a Native American woman and a lucky poker chip given to him by another voter who met him on the campaign trail.

Obama explained, "They’ll hand it to you and they’ll say I want you to be well but I want you to fight for me. And they’ll talk about not having healthcare for their family. Or they’ll talk about being laid off of a job after working for 20 years."

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