Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, weeks removed from a head-turning performance at the Democratic National Convention, continues to serve as a voice for the party.
In a conference call organized by the Democratic National Committee’s Rapid Response Team, Granholm today joined DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz in challenging Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to step up his support for women’s issues in Wednesday’s debate.
“When it comes to paycheck fairness and health security, he just doesn’t get it,” Granholm told reporters, referencing Democrat-backed legislation and the federal health care law.
Specifically, Granholm criticized Romney for failing to back the Paycheck Fairness Act of 2011, which stalled in the Senate this summer. Democrats said the legislation would have added protections for women trying to learn how their pay compared to male coworkers, but Republicans argued it would encourage litigation and reward attorneys.
Romney declined several opportunities to comment directly on the bill, but his campaign repeatedly stated that he “supports pay equity for women.”
Granholm also praised President Obama for signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which extended the statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit on the grounds of gender discrimination.
Romney told Diane Sawyer of ABC News that he has no intention of changing the law but would not say whether he would have signed it. His running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, voted against the bill in the House.
“For women across the country, these are seriously flawed positions,” Granholm said. “They’re seriously troubled values that can’t be washed away with some well-placed zinger or attack on the president. These issues deserve debate.”
Sean Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for Romney’s campaign in Michigan, reiterated the candidate’s support for pay equity and criticized the president’s record of job creation.
“I think it’s indisputable that women have fared terribly under the Obama economy,” he said. “No attack from Granholm or anyone else is going to overshadow that fact for women in the workplace.”
The Romney campaign has reached out to women voters in recent months. Women for Mitt from Wayne County is scheduled to meet tonight in Livonia, where members will offer support for economic policies they say can benefit middle class families.
A national survey of likely voters conducted by Quinnipiac University and released today showed Obama with an 18-percent lead with women, a similar margin to his strong general election numbers from 2008.