Sept. 19, 2008 — -- In a disagreement among candidates' wives, Michelle Obama and Jill Biden took issue with a recent statement by Cindy McCain that abortion is not a "major issue" in the presidential campaign.
Responding to a comment made by John McCain's wife, Cindy, earlier this week, Jill Biden said that preserving a woman's right to abortion should not be dismissed as unimportant in this election.
Cindy McCain avoided directly answering a question about the Supreme Court repealing Roe v. Wade in an interview with "Good Morning America" Wednesday. "There are people without jobs, that are hurting, whose businesses who have collapsed. This is not the major issue on people's minds right now," she said.
After hearing McCain's response, Jill Biden looked at Michelle Obama and arched her eyebrows.
"I think it's very important personally," Biden told ABC News' Claire Shipman. "But I am of that generation of women who fought for Roe v. Wade and I can't imagine the Supreme Court overturning it. I think women have to remember that."
Michelle Obama agreed. "It's one of the many important issues that women are going to be thinking about in this election," she told "GMA."
Cindy McCain has called herself "pro-life" but also says she disagrees with her husband's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, on whether abortion should be illegal, even in cases of rape or incest.
Jill Biden and Michelle Obama acknowledged Palin's appeal, but said women should not vote for the Republican ticket simply because she's the vice presidential candidate.
"Why would they vote for her just because she's a woman?" asked Biden, a teacher with a Ph.D. in education who raised three children. "I mean, what's the rationale behind that? They have to look at how things are going to change and help their families. That's what they have to focus on."
Michelle Obama got some flak earlier this week when she said that voters shouldn't make a decision based on whether "she's cute." Obama quickly added, "And I'm talking about me," but Republicans criticized her for diminishing Palin's experience.
Obama, a lawyer who scaled back her career to raise two daughters, has been holding roundtable discussions about the economic struggle many women face.
"I've run into so many mothers who are working because they have to work, and then they find that their kids are in daycare from seven until six at night. And they have no choice, but they feel guilty," Obama said.
She said that if elected her husband would expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to allow parents more paid sick or personal time to take care of their kids.
Obama and Biden are selling their husbands as thoroughly modern men who get these issues.
"I think Joe understands … because for several years after his first wife was killed, he was a single dad," Jill Biden said. "And he was working, he was commuting home so he could get to the boys' games or get to their school to pick them up."
The two Democrats said that Palin, who has five children, understands this balancing act as well.
"She's done what we've been doing and many women in American are doing," Biden said. "They're just trying to juggle it all, whether it's work, family, they're trying to make it happen."
Obama said that juggling work and family is obviously much easier for women with financial resources.
"It's another thing to be a teacher or bus driver or social worker or a stay-at-home mom when your husband is working at a plant," she said.