DNC2012: A Behind the Scenes Look at the Women’s Caucus

Everyone tunes in for the big speeches at the end of the day during the Democratic National Convention, but not everyone realizes that the delegates’ days are also full of caucus meeting with leaders who talk to packed rooms with a focus on specific issues. This week the days were filled with African American, Veterans, LGBT, and Youth caucuses, just to name a few. The Feminist Majority staff was a mainstay at the Women’s Caucus meetings that happened on Tuesday and Thursday — and the Caucus didn’t disappoint. The women’s caucus room was enormous, and it was always packed full of people and excitement. We’ve pulled together some highlights and main take-aways from the meetings.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s speech to the women’s caucus:

“What I’m here to say to you is that women have the most to gain by the re-election of Barack Obama — and the most to lose if he does not win.”

“It was interesting to me to see the Republican convention and see everyone talk about how they love their mother and they love their wife […] some of us are mothers and some of us are grandmothers, and so that of course is very special — but let’s carry that respect and respect for judgement to all women, to determine the size and the timing of their families, if they choose to have one!” “We must carry this message out across the country: everyone talks about ‘oh pro-choice this and that’…these people are not even pro-birth control. That is a radical position. They don’t believe in the role of government in clean air, clean water, food safety, public education, public safety, but they do believe in the role of government in our bedrooms. It’s just. not. right.”

Stephanie Schriock, the President of Emily’s List:



Senator Amy Klobuchar’s speech: “It was the women of the Senate who stood up and said no — enough is enough — we will not negotiate away women’s health. And we won!” “When the Affordable Care Act was up and they were debating it in the Finance Committee — this is my favorite story of all time — Debbie Stabenow is sitting there on that committee […] the Senator from Arizona, a Republican, he said ‘You know, I don’t know why we need maternity care in that list of benefits, I never used it.’ And do you know what Debbie Stabenow did? She didn’t miss a beat. She looked across the table and she said ‘I bet your mother did.'”

Donna Brazile, political strategist, author, academic, TV personality, and Democratic National Committee Vice Chairwoman: “We are not just here as women. We are here as daughters, mothers, aunts, and nieces. Our opponents believe that women should be relegated to the back of the bus […] we are going to stand up and say we are in the drivers seat. We control our bodies.”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, US Congresswoman and Chair of the Democratic National Committee Wasserman Schutlz is the first woman ever appointed to lead the Democratic National Committee (or the Republican National Committee, for that matter) a point that was heavily emphasized throughout the week, alongside the diversity of Barack Obama’s other appointments.  

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis spoke at the Women’s Caucus as well:  

  Kathleen Sibelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services: “Now, I did watch a lot of the Republicans [at the RNC], and I must say — I wouldn’t have known it unless they told me over and over again — they love women. That’s what they said! They said at the podium “we love women.” And that their mothers are women, they’re married to women, and their sisters are women! But I have to tell you, if you watch what they do — they don’t like women very much. They don’t respect women very much, and they’re not looking out for us very much. Here’s the difference in the Obama Administration: the president has not only talked the talk, but walked the walk. He’s got women in charge of world affairs, he’s got women in charge of domestic security, health care, the work force, of UN diplomacy, of small business […] we now have three women on the Supreme Court. And Mitt Romney just made an important choice for a running mate. If he chooses Paul Ryan to be the next President of the United States — and that’s what he’s saying, he is perfectly comfortable with this guy being ready to be President of the United States […] — think of who he will choose for the Supreme Court. Think of your lives and your liberties in the hands of these folks.”

We had an impromptu visit from Civil Rights leader Rep. John Lewis:


And, last but certainly not least, Michelle Obama made an appearance with Dr. Jill Biden to speak to the crowd about the importance of getting organized and getting out there to mobilize the vote for President Obama.

Democratic women and men know what is on the line for women during this election, and the message that came through loud and clear from these caucus meetings was that we need to go out, knock on doors, make phone calls, and talk to people about what’s at stake for women.

Did you watch the videos, or were you there in the room? Tell us what speeches affected you and what motivated you to action in the comments below.

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