The leaders of the two largest abortion rights groups in the country are among a slew of prominent women expected to escalate attacks on Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s positions on women’s issues at the upcoming Democratic convention.
The Democratic National Convention Committee on Wednesday was releasing a list of female speakers heavy with symbolism, including Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund; Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America; Lilly Ledbetter, the inspiration for the equal pay law signed by President Obama; and Sandra Fluke, the former law school student insulted by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh for advocating health insurance coverage of birth control.
The announcement comes at a time when the Republican Party is facing a firestorm over Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s recent comments about “legitimate rape.’’ On Tuesday, Romney himself joined a bevy of prominent Republicans in urging Akin, the GOP nominee for Senate in his state, to quit the race. Earlier that day, the GOP platform committee approved a strident anti-abortion plank that did not include exceptions for rape or incest. Romney has said he supports those exceptions, but Democrats are using a broad brush to portray the GOP nominee and his party as out of touch with women.
While stopping short of designating “Ladies Night’’ at the convention, the long lineup of female convention speakers makes it clear that the Democratic Party is putting issues like abortion, birth control, Planned Parenthood funding and equal pay at center stage. But the offensive aimed at peeling off female swing voters and exciting the party faithful could come with the risk that the convention appears narrowly focused at a time when the economy is paramount in voters’ minds.
The other speakers listed in the Wednesday announcement are Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, a high-profile and openly lesbian Senate candidate; Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former President John F. Kennedy; disabled Iraq veteran Tammy Duckworth, who is running for Congress in Illinois; actress Eva Longoria, a co-chair of the Obama campaign; Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau, the first American Indian woman to hold statewide office in Montana, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who will be joined by other female senators. Democratic officials have not released a schedule that would indicate whether the women are speaking on the same night of the convention.
The Democratic Party had already announced that Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren would get a prime speaking slot and that California Attorney General Kamala Harris would also give remarks from the stage.