Democrats today unveiled a list of 10 new activists and politicians – all women – scheduled to speak at the party’s grand gathering in Charlotte, N.C., next month, while Republicans continued to grapple with defiant Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin and questions about the party’s decision to renew a push in its convention platform for an abortion ban that makes no exception in cases of rape or incest.
Headlining the Democrats’ group is Georgetown Law grad Sandra Fluke, the woman Rush Limbaugh called a “slut” on his radio show in March after she testified before Congress about the strains facing her and other students denied contraception coverage by their school. Democrats seized on Limbaugh’s comments, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launching a fundraising campaign decrying the “War on Women,” now a familiar phrase in the campaign season.
Fluke has since become an increasingly visible surrogate for President Obama, most recently introducing him at an Aug. 8 rally in Denver. She responded Tuesday to Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape” and pregnancy via an email relayed by the Obama campaign.
“This controversy is not an accident, or a mistake, or an isolated incident,” Fluke wrote. “It’s a reflection of a Republican Party whose policies are dangerous for women.”
Less than a day after Fluke’s e-mail went out, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan refused to give his definition of “forcible rape,” a term used in a an early draft of legislation co-sponsored by Ryan and Akin.
RHRealityCheck.org Editor-in-Chief Jodi Jacobson, a long-time women’s and reproductive rights activist and writer, applauded the DNC’s decision to include Fluke to their list of convention speakers.
“She is extremely articulate and smart,” Jacobson said. “Some leaders come about over time, others are catapulted. She speaks for a new generation of young women.”
The old guard will be represented in Charlotte, too, as Nancy Keenan, the president of the country’s longest active abortion-rights group, NARAL Pro-Choice America, has also accepted an invitation to speak.
“As I stand on stage at the convention, I will amplify your pro-choice voices,” Keenan wrote in a blog post today. “I’m proud that the Democratic Party is again reaffirming its commitment to protect women’s reproductive rights through the party platform, and by choosing so many pro-choice speakers for the convention.”
DNC spokeswoman Melanie Rousell told ABC News, “This convention will define the election as a choice between two very different paths for our nation, particularly when it comes to the health and economic security of women and middle-class families. The speakers announced today were chosen because they can personally define that choice.”
There is no word yet on when Fluke or Keenan will speak, although the group introduced today is expected to be broken up over the three nights (Sept. 4-6) of the convention, which the DNC says will have a “50-50″ split between male and female delegates, in accordance with party rules.
The other speakers confirmed this morning: Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin; Tammy Duckworth, the former assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ; Denise Juneau, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Montana; Caroline Kennedy; Lilly Ledbetter; Eva Longoria, actress and Obama Campaign Co-Chairwoman; U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland; and Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood.