Obama Hits at McCain's Appeal to Women

'He's been on the wrong side' of women's issues, Obama tells ABC News.

ByABC News via logo
June 16, 2008, 2:14 PM

June 16, 2008 — -- Sen. Barack Obama hit back at Sen. John McCain's recent attempts to court women voters who flocked to Sen. Hillary Clinton's failed presidential bid in droves.

."On almost every single issue that's important to women, he's been on the wrong side," the presumptive Democratic nominee told ABC News in an interview in Flint, Mich. Monday.

"You know, he is in favor of judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade. He has opposed equal pay. He has opposed the CHIP [Children's Health Insurance] program, that would make children insured," Obama said.

Watch part of Jake Tapper's interview with Sen. Barack Obama tonight on ABC World News at 6:30pmET

Over the weekend McCain pledged to increase the numbers of women in government if he is elected president.

"I assure you, with confidence, at the end of my first term you will see a dramatic increase of women in every part of the government, in my administration," McCain said Saturday. "I look you in the eye and I promise."

Women voters, who are estimated to represent about 54 percent of the electorate in November, have emerged as a key demographic. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., won them in 2004 by 3 percentage points and former vice president Al Gore won them in 2000 by 11 percentage points.

McCain has turned on the charm in a bid to win over women disgruntled by Clinton's defeat, despite polls showing Obama is winning over women.

Obama is leading McCain by 13 percentage points among female voters according to a Gallup poll released last week.

Answering questions at a "virtual town hall" meeting, which his campaign promoted as an opportunity McCain aimed at former Clinton supporters, McCain's opening remarks at the event included a long section of praise for the New York senator.

"Every place that I go, I'm told that Sen. Clinton inspired millions of young women in this country," McCain said. "And not necessarily young women inspired a whole generation of young Americans in this country."

In an interview Monday, Obama highlighted McCain's voting record on issues that predominantly affect women.

"He has opposed efforts to protect women against some of the discrimination that they experience in the workplace," Obama said. "You know, that's not going to be a track record that I think is going to be very appealing to women."

The latest public opinion polls show Obama locked in a tight race with McCain despite a year where the GOP is thought to be at a disadvantage.

The economic recession and fatigue with the Iraq war has tanked President Bush's approval ratings to 31 percent. Some 82 percent of Americans say the country's seriously off on the wrong track, according to the latest ABC News poll.

Obama said the tight race can be blamed on a variety of factors, including his long Democratic primary battle against Clinton, D-N.Y., and a recent history of close presidential contests.

"Senator Clinton was a formidable and terrific candidate," he said, "and so while we were doing that, John McCain basically was getting a pass."