No one in Great Britain would question whether a woman could be President. Point to Margaret Thatcher – the "Iron Lady" and ask if a woman can be the leader of a country. However, in America we are immersed in this debate.
This debate resurfaced on Tuesday when I attended the Governor and First Lady’s Conference on Women in Long Beach (which was terrific, by the way). There was alot of talk about Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and the potential to elect the first woman president. At a panel discussion that included the first female Governor of New Jersey Christine Whitman, the first female vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro and the first female White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers, I was struck by the dilemma facing me and most Republican women in this upcoming presidential election.
How can we be respectful of the fact that we finally have a woman running for president and at the same time oppose Hillary? Well, the answer is simple – stick to the issues.
The best way to respect Hillary Clinton as a female candidate and oppose her candidacy is to engage on the issues. As Margaret Thatcher once said, "first you win the debate, then you win the vote."
It was Tuesday in the midst of what was at times an outpouring of support for Hillary Clinton that I realized the important responsibility that lay ahead for Republican women. We have to be a strong, confident voice on the issues in the 2008 election. Because the other side will be loud and assumed, we have to be stronger and more credible.
Women who care about their children’s education should stand up for accountability in education and against Hillary Clinton.
Women who make up a large part of America’s small business owners should stand up for lower taxes and less regulation and against Hillary Clinton.
Women who want to make sure our nation is secure should stand up for national security policy that is based on what is best for our country and not a plan that responds to the latest opinion poll.
Women who believe that they and their doctors can make the best healthcare decisions for their families should stand up for a market-based plan that gets control of the costs and ensures the best quality care and against a government-knows-all approach to healthcare.
We have to talk about the issues by talking about what we are for and what Hillary opposes – not the other way around. Our ideas will win the day if we engage voters and are willing to debate the issues.
And by the issues, I mean relevant issues that affect people’s daily lives. It is not about the state of her marriage, some land deal in Arkansas, or the color of her suit. It is about her platform and the future of our country. She is against the good ideas on the issues women care deeply about. She will take America in the wrong direction. We know that – we have to tell the voters that.
This is our chance to redefine the debate about so-called women’s issues. This is our chance to elevate the debate in this presidential campaign. This is our chance to get excited and energized about a woman running for president, even if we don’t vote for her.