Actress Alfre Woodard, left, Democratic Strategist Valerie Jarrett, center, and SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, right, lead a womenÕs roundtable at Petit Fours Bakery in Toledo on Friday.
The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
Three nationally known women involved in the Barack Obama re-election held a “roundtable” with local women leaders in Toledo today.
White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, actress Alfre Woodard, and union President Mary Kay Henry tried to make the case with a group of roughly 20 local women about the importance of President Obama’s re-election in an hour-long event at Petit Fours Bakery in the Oliver House building at 27 Broadway.
“We have a President, who works every day for 100 percent of Americans, we’ve made tremendous progress, and that’s what I’m concerned about - coming out and protecting the progress that we have made," Ms. Woodard said.
“He doesn’t have to look in a binder to find us because it’s in his DNA to recognize women who are hard-working, who are capable,” Ms. Woodard said, referring to Republican Mitt Romney’s statement in the debate Tuesday that as governor of Massachusetts he was given "binders of women" as candidates for positions in his office.
Among the local women present were Democratic elected officials Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez, County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak, state Rep. Teresa Fedor of Toledo, and Toledo Councilman Paula Hicks-Hudson.
Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to Mr. Obama who was participating in the Toledo event in her private capacity as a Democratic strategist, according to the Obama campaign, said women supporters of Mr. Obama are concerned about Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the Lily Ledbetter Act giving women rights to sue for equal pay for equal work.
The tour, which was headed next to Lima, is part of what the campaign is calling its “Women Decide 2012” initiative.
She said the budget proposal of Mr. Romney’s running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.), would “balance the budget on the backs of senior citizens, disabled people, poor people, and young people.”
“If Governor Romney doesn’t scare you enough, please be scared by Congressman Ryan. He’s just terrifying,” Ms. Jarrett said.
She said Mr. Obama wants to balance the budget through a combination of efforts, including raising taxes on the wealthiest of Americans and investing half of the savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in an infrastructure program.
Democrats often point out that the two wars were paid for with deficit spending, and so any continued spending of money dedicated to the wars would still be deficit spending. Ms. Jarrett said the President wants to allocate half of that spending to ending the deficit and half to an infrastructure program.
She said President Obama frequently goes to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to visit with injured service men and women.
“I think we’re pretty lucky to have him, let’s keep him,” Ms. Jarrett said.
The three women and their entourage encouraged the local women to vote early and to talk up Obama to help win the state for Ohio.
Republican women campaigning for Mitt Romney have said the GOP case is that women are affected by the sluggish recovery, as well as high consumer prices.
Mary Kay Henry, international president of the Service Employees International Union, responded to the economic point that the unemployment rate is “slowly coming down” and that Mr. Obama’s 2009 auto rescue saved a lot of jobs in Ohio.
“We think the President grabbed us from the jaws of a Great Depression when he took office and systematically took steps to recover the economy,” Ms. Henry said.
The Romney campaign responded to the Obama event by saying that almost 6 million women are unemployed and under President Obama, the number of women living in poverty has climbed to a record high of nearly 26 million.
“Despite President Obama's best efforts and his lofty rhetoric, as Bill Clinton said yesterday in Ohio, ‘the economy is not fixed.’ People are hurting in the Obama economy, and women especially have been suffering," spokesman Catherine Gatewood said.
"We haven't heard a specific plan or concrete proposals detailing how the next four years will be any different than the last four years. Barack Obama has no explanation for the failures of his economic policies, no record to run on, and no agenda for a second term to help get women back to work.”