Women for Team Mitch?

mitch women

Today the campaign of Sen. Mitch McConnell launched “Women for Team Mitch” at an event in East Louisville, touting female supporters and his advocacy for women.

McConnell, presumably running against Alison Lundergan Grimes next fall and running far behind among women in recent polls, knows he can’t afford to lag double-digits behind Grimes among this demographic without seriously putting his re-election in jeopardy.

Most of the event was made up of women sharing their personal stories of how McConnell helped them individually, from helping a mother navigate bureaucratic channels to find her kidnapped daughter, to giving a staffer time off work to take care of her daughter with cancer. (McConnell shedding tears in the latter account.)

However, when it came down to policy affecting women, a few details of the event seemed peculiar, if not downright contradictory to his actual voting record.

The press packet handed out by his campaign before the event included this quote by Angela Leet of Jefferson County, vouching for Mitch’s support of the Violence Against Women Act:

“Mitch was the co-sponsor of the original Violence Against Women Act- and continues to advocate for stronger policies to protect women. I am proud to call him my senator.”

You might be surprised to learn that McConnell actually was a co-sponsor of the first version of VAWA proposed in 1991, which died in committee that year. However, by 1993 McConnell had pulled his sponsorship, and he voted against the bill that would become the law of the land in 1994. More recently, McConnell also voted against the re-authorization of VAWA in 2012 and 2013, saying that it “could strip Americans of their constitutional rights.” We’re not sure what those exact rights are, but we assume they belong to men.

In a remarkably bold move this summer, McConnell actually said that he only voted against VAWA this year because it wasn’t strong enough. Besides that statement being so implausible that no one could honestly believe it, McConnell’s opinion was obviously not shared by 100 percent of the female Republican senators who voted for it.

If McConnell’s campaign really wants to tout his support of VAWA, the easiest route to do that would have been to just advise him to, you know, not vote against it repeatedly.

McConnell’s Senate staffer we referred to earlier quite genuinely thanked him for letting her stay at home with her child that was diagnosed with cancer, noting he told her that her position would be waiting for her when she was ready to come back. Women who work for the government or a business employing more than 50 people are afforded such a right to leave work and take care of a sick child — or take care of a newborn child — under federal law, specifically 1993′s Family Medical Leave Act. And yes, Mitch McConnell was one of the few senators to vote against that bill.

McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao spoke about how her husband has secured a large amount of funding for breast cancer research, and fought for legislation and funding for expanded cancer screenings for underprivileged and under-served communities.

But McConnell has also fought hard against “Obamacare,” which he wants to throw out “root and branch.” Some of those roots and branches include the many thousands of free cancer screenings for women in Kentucky, new access to health clinics, the roughly 600,000 new Kentuckians who will now have access to health care insurance with Medicaid expansion and the private exchange (most of whom are women), the new prohibition of insurance companies charging women more than men, and free contraception coverage.

McConnell is also busy giving a bear hug to sequestration, which in Kentucky is cutting off cancer screenings to hundreds of low-income women through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, throwing over 800 kids off of Head Start programs, mounting further devastation onto the already steep cuts to child care tax credits for working mothers, and cutting needed funds to help victims of domestic violence.

There was also no mention of McConnell’s votes against the Lilly Ledbetter Act and Paycheck Fairness Act, though former Congresswoman Anne Northup — McConnell campaign surrogate of the day — said that those laws would actually make women “less competitive and attractive” in the workplace. Why? Because employers would be afraid to hire women, since they could get all litigious and stuff for being discriminated against.

Yes, that’s who they sent out in front of reporters to argue their case for women.

And then there’s McConnell’s strong support for the Blunt Amendment, support for Richard Mourdock’s rape-is-God’s-gift line, and his strong support for restricting the reproductive choices of women.

McConnell doesn’t have any real chance of winning more votes than Grimes among women next fall, but he needs to at least make the margin somewhat competitive. If he has any chance of doing so, he’ll likely have to bury much of his record on women’s issues under a cloud of misdirection similar to what we saw today. If that doesn’t succeed, he’ll just have to bury Grimes under $70 million of attack ads over the next 15 months so that voters are too busy hating her to care about McConnell’s votes. The latter seems more likely.


  1. Maria Gillette
    Posted August 31, 2013 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    Dumb White Bitches for Mitch?

  2. AJ
    Posted August 31, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    “Undeserved communities”?

  3. Greg Leichty
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    I lost a Twitter follower over this. One of McConnell’s staff people had been on my Twitter feed since I announced for Senate in June. She put up a tweet about this event and how proud she was a woman to work for McConnell who had stood up so courageously for women. I sent her a message saying–she had a future in stand-up comedy. I know I shouldn’t have done it, but the delicious irony was too tempting:

  4. Jennifer Patt
    Posted September 10, 2013 at 3:04 am | Permalink

    On Mitch McConnell’s record regarding sequestration – are women not supported by the idea that our nation’s budget is not a figment of our imagination that can be fixed by pixie dust and printing money like in a long game of Monopoly? Are we not a real-life sovereign nation with debts to real-life China and others? Wake up! Are women not to be encouraged and supported by a sequestration that cuts budget in every area possible? It’s makes hard choices, YES, but a woman’s part of the financial conversation should not be the democrats idea of, “Let’s run up all of our international credit cards like run-amok teenagers and every 6-12 months beg the right to put the WHOLE FAMILY into further debt with a higher credit limit.” A strong woman wouldn’t stand for that in her own household. Why should we vote in Alison Grimes to be just another pushover parent?

    And concerning a woman’s choice – I am so tired of this being just a plug at the end of every democrat’s conversation about which party is for women. This nation now overwhelmingly believes that life begins way before birth. In my family, we have a nurse who was born at around 24 weeks. Unfortunately for the irresponsible party(ies) in the couple who creates an unwanted life, believing abortion kills a life makes me morally obligated to protect the dignity and rights of that helpless one. And yes that is always most difficult for the woman to bear – every mother knows that child bearing doesn’t stop at the delivery. Democrats continue to undignify the process of childbearing by acting like every woman who chooses abortion is a humanitarian for not bringing up an unwanted American – as if that was the only morality out there. I’m incredulous to this argument, therefore democrats as a party don’t speak for me.

    Don’t think that women should be forced to view our money problems as having fairy tale answers and our children as rightless blobs until birth? Move your party ladies!!

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8 Trackbacks

  1. [...] has more on the event and McConnell’s [...]

  2. [...] has more on the event and McConnell’s [...]

  3. [...] of these testimonials caught the eye of an alert reporter for the Louisville-based LEO Weekly, Joe Sonka, who posted it on Twitter.  Let’s turn to TPM for the rest of the [...]

  4. By Republicans on Parade–9/5/2013 » Politics Plus on October 17, 2013 at 5:07 am

    [...] “Women For Team Mitch” features testimonials from Kentucky women. One of them caught the eye of Joe Sonka, a reporter for the Louisville-based LEO Weekly, who posted it on [...]

  5. […] event in Louisville — where he took credit for supporting the Violence Against Women Act, dubiously — but McConnell snuck out without taking any questions from reporters. In November I attended […]

  6. […] can return. And thankfully we have laws like the Family Medical Leave Act, even though McConnell voted against that, along with the Violence Against Women Act. And while coverage for contraception was ensured by the ACA, the […]

  7. […] easily passed the Senate last year — supported by all female Republican senators — McConnell voted against VAWA for the second straight year. You may have seen a few ads from Alison Lundergan Grimes pointing […]

  8. […] Senate office first explained that his vote against VAWA in 2013 was because it “could strip Americans of their constitutional rights.” He later said he supported a Republican version of the law because it put in place stronger […]