Shelly Mandell, the president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for Women introduced Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin over the weekend in California, speaking not on behalf of NOW but "as an individual, as a woman’s rights activist for 30 years who has worked for all those years to see this day."
Going through her feminist bona fides — the International Women’s Year, the Equal Rights Amendment, Geraldine Ferraro — Mandell said she is "proud to support Sarah Palin, a woman who will fight for women’s rights … a woman who will, Lord knows, shake things up."
"Make no mistake," Mandell said. "I’m a life-long Democrat … I don’t agree with Gov. Palin on several issues." And yet, she said, "I know Sarah Palin cares about women’s rights, she cares about equality, she cares about equal pay, and as Vice President she will fight for it. She cares about our children and she cares about women’s lives. She’s an athlete and she knows what Title Nine did for girls like her."
"It is an honor to call her sister," Mandell said as she handed the microphone over to Palin, who would accuse Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., of "palling around with terrorists."
“America," Mandell said, "this is what a feminist looks like."
California’s NOW President, Patty Bellasalma, issued a statement saying that the "National Organization for Women Political Action Committee (NOW PAC) joined with many allied organizations representing a broad and diverse cross-section of U.S. women to endorse Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Both have long records of service, fighting to improve the rights of women, families, and working people. From voting rights to equal pay legislation to authoring and funding the Violence Against Women Act, it was clear to NOW PAC that the Obama/Biden ticket represents the best team for the kind of future we envision for women and girls.
"A member and officer of the Los Angeles NOW chapter, Shelly Mandell, recently introduced Governor Sarah Palin at an event in Carson, California. Ms. Mandell was speaking as an individual and was not authorized to represent NOW, the NOW PAC or LA NOW in any capacity in connection with a federal candidate endorsement. As NOW President Kim Gandy said upon Palin’s selection , ‘Not every woman supports women’s rights.’ The use of Shelly Mandell’s Los Angeles NOW title was apparently intended to mislead the public, and indeed has resulted in local television outlets and internet reports misstating that LA NOW has “endorsed” Sarah Palin or that she has a record of supporting women’s rights. This in fact is not the case.
"As President of California NOW and as a member and officer of Los Angeles NOW, I can assure you that there is no local or state affiliate of NOW, including LA NOW, which endorses or supports the McCain/Palin ticket. John McCain and Sarah Palin oppose many of the rights and freedoms we have fought for throughout NOW’s 42 years, and we will not be pushed back to the days of back-alley abortions, forced pregnancies, and pay discrimination without remedy. Nor will we let the media distractions deter our members and activists from our organizing for freedom and equality for all women, putting our hopes and our dreams, our hard work and our hard-earned money, behind a proven team for women: the next President of the United States – Barack Obama – and his running mate, longtime friend and ally of women, Sen. Joe Biden With equal ferocity we will fight to protect young women by defeating Proposition 4 and to keep bigotry and discrimination out of our state constitution by defeating Proposition 8 here in California."