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Women’s March organizers won’t play video speech by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, her spokesman says

UPDATED: Fri., Jan. 19, 2018

The Women’s March on Jan. 21, 2017 drew thousands to downtown Spokane. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
The Women’s March on Jan. 21, 2017 drew thousands to downtown Spokane. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said organizers of the Spokane Women’s Persistence March will not air a videotaped speech by the Republican congresswoman or allow aides to speak on her behalf.

The downtown event is expected to draw a large crowd Sunday with a list of speakers that includes Democrat Lisa Brown, who is challenging McMorris Rodgers to represent Eastern Washington.

McMorris Rodgers’ press secretary, Jared Powell, said Friday that march organizers approached aides for the congresswoman during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event and asked if she would deliver a speech. With a prior family obligation and threats of a government shutdown on Capitol Hill, McMorris Rodgers will not be able to attend, Powell said. So she recorded a 2-minute video instead.

Powell said march organizers initially agreed to play a video, but after the congresswoman’s office sent it to them Friday afternoon, “they let us know that they had a policy that a video wouldn’t work, and that the speaker would need to be there in person.”

Powell said he believed there had been a “miscommunication” among the volunteers organizing the march.

Cynthia Hamilton, a local activist who is spearheading the event, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

McMorris Rodgers, who has been booed at several public events during the past year, might not have expected a welcoming audience at the march. A year ago, women’s marches across the country – in which participants donned pink “pussyhats” and protested President Donald Trump’s inauguration – were generally hostile to conservative stances on abortion, LGBT rights and other issues.

At the time, the congresswoman gave a lukewarm response to the march in Spokane, which drew an estimated 8,000 participants.

“I very much respect their right to march,” she said at the time. “I will always protect a person’s ability to speak freely.”

In the video, which Powell provided to The Spokesman-Review, McMorris Rodgers says:

“I wish I was able to join you for the 2018 Women’s March in Spokane. I appreciate you allowing me to be a part of this event … If you would have told me as a little girl, picking fruit on our orchard, that I would one day be elected as the 200th women ever to serve in the United States House of Representatives, and to be the only women to give birth three times while serving in office, I wouldn’t have thought it possible.”

She continues: “It’s true that I work in a male-dominated field, like many women in this country. And that’s why it is crucial that we do our part as women to be role models, to encourage women in our community to be bold, to strive, to fulfill their dreams, and to be positive disruptors.

“Today, women are starting businesses at a record rate. Two out of three new businesses are women-owned businesses. More than 400 estimated new businesses every day (are) being created by women. And this is generating an estimated $2.46 trillion in revenue in this country. Not to mention women of color are starting businesses at six times the rate of men.

“Clearly, over the last century, we have overcome a lot. Women in this country are breaking down the barriers, making their presence known … My goal today is to encourage you to live courageously, follow your heart, take risks and be fearless and enthusiastic. It was Margaret Thatcher who said, ‘If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.’ So thanks for all you are doing in our community to improve the opportunities and advocate for women in Spokane. Have a great day.”

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