Why it matters when the debates ignore women

Chalk drawing of a circle with a women's symbol in a fistBY JESSICA PIEKLO

During the first presidential candidates debate, neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney mentioned anything related to equal pay, reproductive rights or paid family leave despite the fact that restricting women’s rights was the single most important priority for Congressional Republicans and women voters are an increasingly important, and diverse, demographic. In the second debate, at least one of these issues is almost certain to be discussed, but at this point in the campaign, does it even matter?

It matters in the short-term because Romney’s positions on choice, equal pay, contraception benefits and nearly every economic issue that matter to women seem to be in a constant state of flux, reliant on whoever his audience at the moment happens to be. Democrats need to make Romney pick a position and hold him to it, and the debate is an excellent opportunity to make that point. President Obama could take a cue from his tenacious Vice President and affirmatively make the case that women’s rights are not just important, they are fundamental to the health and success of the republic.

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