WASHINGTON — A new project of the Bush-Cheney campaign, “W Stands for Women,” aims to make Republican voters of the single and suburban women who are more concerned about safety than they were before Sept. 11, 2001.
About 300 women packed a Washington ballroom Wednesday for a kickoff featuring Elizabeth Cheney, a specialist in women’s empowerment in the Middle East and a daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, and Doro Bush Koch, who founded a Maryland literacy group and is the president’s sister.
Koch pointed to the president’s mother, his wife, their twins and various appointees, and drew laughter by saying: “Our candidate is strong on women’s issues, and there can be only one reason why: He’s surrounded by strong women.”
Ann L. Wagner, co-chairman of the Republican National Committee, charged that for Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., “W stands for ‘waffle.’ ”
During the hour-long program, homeland protection and the war on terrorism were emphasized over abortion and child care. “You heard a lot of speakers today talking about issues of health care, issues of education,” Cheney said afterward. “What you’re seeing, though, is that the set of issues that women care about has really broadened in a lot of ways since September 11. Security is an issue all Americans care about.”
Cheney, whose fourth child is due July 1, said that she recently spoke to a group of Hispanic women in Wisconsin, and that several of them told her they had moved to the Republican Party even though their families had historically voted Democratic. “There is sometimes a tendency to talk about women as though we are a herd and to say ‘Women believe this’ or ‘Women want that,’ ” Cheney said. “That does a real disservice to us.”
A poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press showed the group has its work cut out. Women who are registered to vote favored Kerry over Bush by 12 percentage points, compared with Kerry’s 5-point margin over Bush among all voters. Male voters favored Bush by 4 points.
The group is a successor to “W Is for Women” in the 2000 campaign. The campaign released a 25-page list of the Bush-Cheney ‘04 National “W Stands for Women” Leadership Team, and announced plans for similar groups in key states.
Chad Clanton, a Kerry spokesman, replied: “The ‘W’ in George W. stands for ‘wrong’ on women’s issues,” including equal pay, the environment and education. Kerry’s Web site has a “Women’s Action Kit” for building support online and in neighborhoods.