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Published: Thursday, 7/29/2004

Convention women aim to inspire youth, voting-age females

BY FRITZ WENZEL
BLADE POLITICAL WRITER
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm addresses the Democratic National Convention at Boston's FleetCenter. She says she takes her responsibility as a role model for girls seriously. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm addresses the Democratic National Convention at Boston's FleetCenter. She says she takes her responsibility as a role model for girls seriously.
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BOSTON - When Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm arrived at the lectern on the stage of the Democratic National Convention in prime time last night to deliver a 10-minute speech on the economy, she knew that there were young women across the country watching.

And learning.

It's a responsibility she said she takes seriously, but one she cherishes.

"Symbolically, I want young women certainly to know that 'If I can do it, you can.' If I am in this position, that means that every one of those young girls out there has that opportunity. That there is no glass ceiling. Once it's been broken, it never goes back," Ms. Granholm said yesterday, hours before her speech.

As has been the case during all modern conventions, women have played an important role here this week, both to inspire youth and to attract voting-age women.

An emphasis during the convention on issues that, according to polls, are important to women - security, health care, family values - may reflect why Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry leads President Bush in the demographic, typically by double-digits.

But those polls also show Mr. Kerry trails among male voters, which is one reason the race for the White House is so close.

Tuesday night, Teresa Heinz Kerry spoke of Peace Corps workers as the most positive American face people in other nations could see.

The contrast, also painted in other speeches from the stage here this week, is that Mr. Bush has thrust gun-toting American soldiers on parts of the world that would prefer to have workers who will build water systems and teach children.

Monday night, Democratic U.S. senators made an appearance on stage together. Speaking to the convention Monday, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan remarked on key women's issues.

"We will renew our nation's commitment to the quality, affordable health care that Americans need and deserve," should Mr. Kerry win the presidency, Ms. Stabenow said.

"John Kerry and I are working in the Senate to end the senseless ban on buying lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada. And President John Kerry will allow our government to negotiate the lowest possible prices from domestic drug companies," the senator said.

"Job creation and access to health care are only two of many pledges we make to the American people," she continued.

"In the next three months, we will speak directly and forcefully about these and other values we share - faith, family, opportunity, service, and responsibility."

Last night, Ms. Granholm's speech focused mainly on challenges that business has faced in Michigan and across the nation in the last four years, but her message went beyond mere words.

Her presence on the convention stage sent a message in itself.

Contact Fritz Wenzel at:

fritz@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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