The Young Politica: Do the Presidential Candidates ‘Walk the Walk’ on Student Issues?

If you watched the presidential debate this past week, you probably remember Jeremy Epstein, a 20-year-old college student who attends Adelphi University. He opened up the town hall question session by asking:

“Mr. President, Governor Romney, as a 20-year-old college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors and others is that when I graduate, I will have little chance to get employment. Can — what can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?”

This question is the basis of concern for many young Americans. And it correlates to other questions we have about student loans and the economy. In 2008, 51% of young voters came out to the polls and helped swing the vote. An overwhelming amount of students—68 %—voted for Barack Obama.

Now that there is some unrest on how he has handled the economy over the past four years, recognizing the student vote on both sides should be key to snagging the presidency. Here are some issues the candidates need to address:

Degree-Requiring Jobs

Most students out of college are either unemployed or work at jobs which do not need a degree. While both candidates focus on the generalization of ‘more jobs’, they are not necessarily adding more to degree-requiring jobs to the market. Romney addresses these concerns by emphasizing his administration’s take on education—bring more students to technical, vocational, and trade schools. Obama has added jobs, but they are mostly an effort to continue to emphasize his desire to return factory jobs to American workers.

Climate

There is some hope that the candidates will address climate change at the upcoming debate. The President has obviously softened on his need for environmental improvements after Solyndra’s downfall. And Romney is still mocking him for it. But neither candidate has addressed the issue directly within recent weeks.

The Youth Vote

It seems that there have been some belated efforts, but snagging a large percentage of youth votes may be too late. Unlike Barack Obama, Mitt Romney has avoided sitting down with television hosts (wish I could say the same for Ann ) and his social media presence is sub par in comparison to Obama’s. At the same token, Romney might not see benefit in the youth vote; but Obama is definitely not as hip as he was in 2008, as Paul Ryan noted.

After the town hall debate, Jeremy Epstein spoke to NBC New York to discuss the debate. He said that he made his voting decision, but kept it confidential. After the debate, Epstein spoke with both candidates:

“I asked [Romney] if he’s gonna give me that job in two years and he said ‘Maybe,'” Epstein said. “Then I was speaking with President Obama asking how his Chicago Bulls are gonna do, because they lost their MVP Derek Rose, and he said that I could not beat him in one-on-one, but I disagree with that.”

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

Debate #2: Crowley Wins It, Binders of Women New Mitt Meme

Candy Crowley was the biggest winner in last night’s Town Hall for her real time fact checking on Libya. She also asked follow up questions that forced the candidates to clarify their positions. She is, however, wrong in saying that it doesn’t matter that she’s a woman. It matters a lot that other women see they can aspire to moderate a presidential debate if that is their aspiration. And I suspect having a female role model gave permission, conscious or not, to female questioners who asked about such issues as equal pay.

President Obama snatched victory from the jaws of his first debate defeat, while Mitt Romney snatched defeat from the jaws of his previous winning performance by being, well, Romney.

The optics revealed two alpha males, each determined to prevail. However, Romney’s body language was stiff and menacing, reeking of privilege, whereas Obama seemed comfortable and nonthreatening in his leadership responsibility as president and commander-in-chief.  As Keli Goff observed, Romney not only appeared on the brink of losing his cool several times, but the way he brushed off Crowley was a turn off to women whom both candidates acknowledge are key to the election.

Obama skillfully skewered Romney on the economy with his one-liner characterizing Romney’s economic policy as a “one-point-plan” and saving the 47% moment to the end after Romney set his own trap.

Rivaling his Big Bird gaffe which rapidly became a social media meme, Romney stepped into the biggest pile of goo ever with his “binders of women” comment. Meant to puff up his creds with the ladies, poor Mitt only succeeded in showing

a) he himself apparently knew no qualified women despite having been in business for decades and

b) the Democrats are accurate in saying Romney lies; it turns out he didn’t request those binders.

The binders were prepared in advance of the election by a nonpartisan women’s coalition for whomever would become governor.

This has already spawned a “Binders Full of Women” tumblr and a whole slew of Democratic fundraising appeals playing off of Romney’s amazing tone deafness with the reality of women’s lives today. (Really? Only women want to go home for dinner with their families?) My favorite is the one pointing out that there are ballots full of women we can vote for this year.

I wanted Obama to say more, lots more, about the peril to women’s reproductive rights and health should Romney win, and to make more of a point that contraceptive coverage is in fact an economic issue. But there again, Romney managed to do himself in by dancing an inauthentic two-step as he tried to satisfy his anti-birth control base with their favorite code words while not frightening off the 99% of Americans who use birth control at some time during their lives.

So we go into the final debate with a tie score, each candidate having won one and lost one. The last lap of this election promises to continue to be a see-saw. Every vote cast will make a difference.

This post originally appeared in response to a Politico Arena question. Find the original publication here.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

The Young Politica: What Each Presidential Candidate Has to Offer You

Researching candidates is key when deciding who you will vote for in the 2012 presidential election. However, deciphering fact from opinion about how they would lead the country on major issues can be overwhelming—especially for a first-time voter.

As I have mentioned in previous columns, our demographic (college-aged females) plays a pivotal role in this election. Our choice, come November, has the power to determine how much we owe after college, who we can marry, and how long we can stay on our parents’ insurance plan.

So what can the two major presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, offer us? Here are just a few key points in the election that concern our demographic.

Debt:

“When President Obama took office, he both addressed the immediate economic crisis and laid the foundation for a U.S. economy that’s built to last.”

Obama is sticking with his guns, claiming that the last four years were the foundation for what’s to come. His economic highlights include: implementing the stimulus package early in his administration, his attempted revival of this country’s automobile industry, and his administration’s alleged creation of 4.5 million private-sector jobs.

His plan seeks to reduce taxes, spending, regulation, and government programs. It seeks to increase trade, energy production, human capital, and labor flexibility. It relinquishes power to the states instead of claiming to have the solution to every problem.”

Much of—arguably most of—Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign focuses on the state of the nation’s pit of debt and how he can get us out of it. The debt calculator at the Republican National Convention, which hit $16 trillion at the event, said it all.

Some of his economic highlights: replacing Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) with a plan that places more power back into the hands of private insurers, as well as downsizing U.S. entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid and overall government spending.

‘Obamacare’ vs. Romney’s proposed health plan:

The Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), was implemented to guarantee that all Americans have health insurance by the year 2014—federal or otherwise. It allows for children up to the age of 26 to be covered by their parents’ insurance. It has been criticized for giving too much federal control over personal health decisions. Obamacare will also require that all U.S. citizens without health insurance by the year 2014 to be fined annually.

Romney has variously said he will repeal Obamacare and that he will keep some parts like insuring those with preexisting conditions. The Romney campaign criticizes Obamacare for being too “one size fits all” with healthcare. The GOP sees a competitive private insurance market as a way to allow a consumer to choose what they want covered.

Women’s Health:

Under Obamacare, women can receive free STD screenings, mammograms, and FDA-approved contraception as long as they don’t work in a faith-based organization that disapproves funding its employees’ birth control.

Obama also supported the Roe vs. Wade decision that declared “government should not intrude with family matters” and legalized abortion. However, if currently insured by Medicaid, abortion cannot be covered unless the state in which one lives decides to cover it in cases where the pregnancy was conceived during incest or rape.

Also, during his 2008 campaign, the President promised to support the Freedom of Choice Act, which states that it’s a woman’s fundamental right to choose to bear child—a promise he has not kept.

Under Romney’s healthcare plan, free cancer screenings and birth control will not be available. However, there has yet to be a definitive platform on invasive ultrasound by the Romney team.

Despite Todd Akin’s comments, the prospective Romney administration approves of abortion in the cases of the endangerment of the mother’s life, rape, or incest. The consensus of conservative GOP-ers is to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Clearly, there will be no federal coverage of abortion.

Higher Education:

Democrats view federal student aid as a way to ‘invest in our country’s future’—thus, they’ve attempted to provide enough student aid for successful students. The Obama administration has also tried to make it easier for college students to pay off their debt, by simplifying payment plans.

But as mentioned before, the ‘investment’ doesn’t always pay off. There are many students who leave college with debt who cannot find a job, and therefore cannot pay off their loans.

Student debt also contributes to our national debt, both of which have increased exponentially over the past ten years.

The Romney camp is pushing for low-cost alternatives to be explored and promoted in order to limit government spending on student loans. Among the alternatives: extended community colleges and technical institutions, and online education.

If these alternative institutions are not improved, this may limit the educational possibilities for students who cannot finance their education to attend top-tier universities. This may in turn affect the intellectual capabilities of our future workforce.

Also, the GOP believes that the government “should not be in the business of originating student loans” and it will not boost Pell Grants.

Marriage Equality:

The Obama administration provides all federal employees, gay or straight, with the same spousal benefits. His administration also repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

While civil unions and same sex marriage is approved in a handful of states, it is not recognized by the federal government.

Mitt Romney claims that he wants to “defend marriage, not redefine it.” He opposes gay marriage and civil unions.

I hope you use this information to your advantage this November—and no matter who you think should take office, get out and vote.

Only 55% of us Young Politicas voted last election. Let’s make 2012 our year.

 

 

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

Can Ann Romney Cover for Mitt’s Agenda?

Last night as expected, Ann Romney’s speech covered her husband’s image in warm fuzzy love.

The New York Times suggested that Ann Romney’s speech, which highlighted the hard work she put in to raise five boys and battle two serious illnesses, may have zapped some of the energy away from her husband.

How and why any woman can drink the Kool-aid Ann Romney served up is a topic for another day. But no amount of Ann’s love and charming demeanor can obscure the realities of Mitt Romney’s intent if elected.

Politico Arena asked me whether Ann Romney’s speech at the Republican National Convention would persuade voters, including women, that her husband is someone we can trust.

Indeed, Americans can trust Mitt. There was never any doubt, and it didn’t take a speech by his wife to tell us the many ways we can trust him:

  1. We can trust Mitt Romney to escalate the War on Women (see this graph for a day-by-day chronology of what he and his party have already done to destroy women’s human and civil rights to full person-hood and to make their own childbearing decisions, to get equal pay for equal work, and to have access to health care for themselves and their families).
  2. We can trust him to be in the pocket of the Koch brothers, Karl Rove, the evangelical right-wing, and the Tea Partiers. That doesn’t give him much governing wiggle room even if he had his own agenda, which he clearly does not—beyond getting elected, that is.
  3. We can trust him to give tax cuts to the wealthiest 1% and squeeze more taxes out of the rest of us, especially the struggling middle class. Even Republican analysts have said his tax plan (to the extent he has actually been specific about it) doesn’t add up and will further unbalance the budget.
  4. We can trust him to gut the Affordable Care Act, though it is modeled on the health plan he spearheaded as governor of Massachusetts.
  5. We can trust him to destroy Medicare and attempt to eviscerate Social Security, both of which enable millions of seniors to live out their last years with some semblance of dignity and independence.
  6. We can trust him to run roughshod over any attempts toward environmental sustainability.
  7. We can trust that he will never be trustworthy because he has no bedrock principles other than doing whatever it takes to become president, even running on a Republican Party platform so draconian he has opposed almost everything in it at some time or another in his attempts to get elected.

Romney will need more than speeches by his wife to cover up the negative realities of what his presidency would mean to the American people in their daily lives.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Can Romney’s speech overcome his image?

Are you watching the Republican National Convention? What do you think of the goings on?

Tell me your thoughts here. The Politico Arena question today talks about how Americans view Romney, saying a new Pew Research Center poll shows that more Americans are interested in the GOP platform than Mitt Romney’s convention speech.

Another Pew survey shows that 71 percent of Americans say that if Mr. Romney were elected president, his policies would be good for the rich.

This information may not bode well for Romney, who needs to overcome the perception that he is out of touch with regular Americans.

Will Romney’s convention speech make a difference for undecided voters? Or are Americans’ perceptions of Romney already largely cemented two months before the election?

Here was my top of mind reply, but how would you answer?

If Americans are more interested in the Republican platform than Romney’s convention speech, that’s good news for Barack Obama. The old adage “Watch what he does more than what he says” is true here. The platform is a harbinger of what Romney will do if he’s in office. And that, frankly, is frightening for women’s rights and self-determination, economic fairness and justice, and the economy as a whole. Think George W. Bush administration policies that practically bankrupted the country on steroids.

Romney torques himself into and back out of almost every position on the political map as he sense the winds of his base supporters blowing. His speech is likely to be carefully crafted as fodder to excite the base while stepping as lightly as he can around issues that are contentious with independents, moderate Republicans, and the few remaining undecided Democrats who are disaffected with Obama and might swing toward Romney.

Sometimes perception is reality though. Romney is perceived as not being in touch with regular Americans because he fundamentally isn’t in touch with the realities of our lives. If he gives an excellent speech, he might get a small temporary bump. But what his policies would do – or not – for average Americans is ultimately much more important.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Romney’s Ryan Pick: Evil Brilliance, Obama’s Opportunity

So I was wrong when I predicted Mitt Romney would pick Pawlenty or Portman.

Instead, House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis) will be his running mate, Romney announced the pick in Virginia this morning.

The choice of Ryan marks the final descent of Mitt Romney into Tea Party hell. Ensnared by his lust for power at all costs, Mr. Etch-a-Sketch has relinquished whatever shreds were left of his claim to an authentic mind of his own.

On its raw politics, picking Ryan is evil brilliance. On its utter disregard for America’s long term economic future and the American values of equal opportunity and justice, it’s just plain evil.

But Romney’s pick does sharpen the choice for voters. The question now is whether Obama will take the opportunity he has been given to define that choice clearly on his terms and to his advantage.

I liked Michael Tomasky’s take:

So he’ll get some good press, and he’ll generate great enthusiasm among conservative intellectuals. But the introduction of [Ryan] to the American people will inevitably involve some other things, too. It will involve explanations from the media that he is the GOP’s archconservative theoretician. It will involve explaining who Ayn Rand is. It will involve going into detail on his budget, and in particular his plans for Medicare. Learn that now, folks, if you don’t know it already. It will involve endless interpretations exactly like mine, about Romney sending a signal that he is running an ultraconservative campaign. The Ryan controversy will overtake the campaign. Romney will become in some senses the running mate—the ticket’s No. 2.

Romney’s Freudian slip calling Ryan “the next president of the United States” at the press conference seems to second that opinion.

Ryan assures an even larger gender gap in November. And most likely a new age gap. So here’s a new prediction: Young women afraid of losing their access to birth control and seniors fearing loss of Medicare may well form the biggest new voting bloc in history. Let the games begin.

 

 

 


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Who should be Romney’s running mate?

As the Republican National Convention highlights women on its convention speaking schedule, the speculation about who Romney will choose as his running mate has crept back onto the media screen.

According to Politico, The Republican National Committee has announced that Condoleezza Rice, Mike Huckabee, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez are among those expected to address the Republican convention – all but knocking them off of the vice presidential contenders list if usual rules are followed.

Observes Politico’s Arena question today, “That leaves several expected contenders in the mix, including former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

“While Christie is rumored to be the keynote speaker, nothing has been confirmed.  Despite the buzz, he has said in the past that he is not vice presidential material.”

Whoever the veep choice might be, I’ll bet Romney would love for us to be speculating on his vice presidential pick instead of where his tax returns are and whether he paid taxes during the years he refuses to disclose.

There’s no reason why someone who is speaking at the convention couldn’t be chosen, despite tradition, and if Romney wanted to do a stunner who might actually bring him new constituencies, he’d pick Martinez. But he’s too cookie-cutter for that. My money is on one of the “P’s,” Portman or Pawlenty, with a slim (oops) chance for the more bombastic Christie.

Who do you think Romney should choose for a running mate? Why? And what difference would it make to the race in your opinion?

An excerpt from this article ran in the Politico Arena. Here is a link to my response to the Arena question.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Should the U.S. press corps ‘shove it’?

Mitt Romney’s traveling press secretary lost his cool with reporters covering the candidate’s overseas trip. Aide Rick Gorka told reporters to “kiss my ass” and “shove it” after they shouted questions at Romney during his visit to Pilsudski Square, near the Polish Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

“Kiss my ass; this is a holy site for the Polish people,” said Gorka to reporters. “Show some respect.” Gorka then told a reporter to “shove it.” The aide later called members of the press to apologize, calling his actions “inappropriate.” Romney has not held a media availability for his traveling press corps since taking three questions outside 10 Downing Street in London last Thursday.

The Politico Arena question for today was: Was this an instance of aggressive reporters overstepping their bounds? Or do presidential candidates need to be more accessible to media outlets?

My take is this:

It’s easy to say there is blame on both sides. And there is. No press aide can ever afford to be rude or obscene in his or her attempts, however frustrating, to get the media to focus on the candidate’s preferred issues. Getting any campaign’s messages out requires a constant dance with the press in a rapacious news cycle always pleading to be fed. When there is no substance, style inevitably becomes the focus of media attention. The right will squeal allegations that it’s all because of the “liberal media,” but really it has more to do with boredom on a slow news day coupled with an inaccessible candidate who becomes more media-shy the more these incidents happen.

All that said, I can’t help but feel sorry for Gorka. He has the impossible task of defining a deliberately indefinable candidate. No wonder Romney keeps stubbing his toe on public discourse. He has no idea who he is, so how can he authentically empathize with others when talking with them? His trifecta of gaffes this week, stretching from London to Jerusalem on a globe hopping trip concocted to show the world he is prepared to lead foreign policy, has made him look like a buffoon once again. If I were Gorka, I’d be uttering all kinds of choice words right now. Apparently he forgot the cardinal rule of keeping his frustration within the confines of the campaign while keeping his public face cheery at all times.

An excerpt from this article ran in the Politico Arena. Here is a link to my response to the Arena question.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

You Never Really Hear About Mitt Romney’s Ankles

OK, I admit it: when I wrote about the sitcom Veep, I fretted over the less than buttoned up wardrobe that the first female vice president character, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, wears.

I’m looking forward to seeing the USA Network new series on  Political Animals to see how they portray the Hillary-esque main character played by Sigourney Weaver.  So much pop culture, so little time, and meanwhile a serious election is going on!

Recently when I talked with Americas Radio News network about how the media treats women candidates, I had a chance to say more about this fraught topic.

And the Women’s Media Center blog posted this review of my America’s Radio News podcast.

In the wake of hints from the Romney presidential campaign that it may be considering a woman for the vice-presidential slot on the ticket, Women’s Media Center board member Gloria Feldt was on America’s Radio News Network to talk about media treatment given to female political candidates, and what kind of effect it may have on other women considering a run.

Says Gloria, “Women’s physical appearance and their sexuality is so often the first thing that you hear about, before you hear about what they believe about issues, or how they’ve voted on important legislation… We heard about Hillary’s ankles, her turquoise pantsuit, we heard about her hair, we heard about her cleavage, but how much did we hear about what she really thought about the issues. That’s the thing.”

ARNN co-host Molly Paige responds, “That’s true, you really never hear about Mitt Romney’s ankles.”

 The review of the America’s Radio News podcast was written by Michelle Kinsey Bruns and was published on the WMC blog.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Is Trump a liability for Mitt Romney?

Politico Arena Asks:

Billionaire Donald Trump will join Mitt Romney tonight at a fundraiser in Las Vegas. The appearance comes just five days after the real estate developer aimed to re-ignite the debate about President Obama’s birthplace.

Tonight’s appearance could pose some political risk to Romney, political experts predict.  Obama released his long-form birth certificate last year, which showed his birthplace to be Honolulu, Hawaii.

Is it worth the money for Romney to associate himself with a birther? Will this help or hurt Romney’s campaign?

My Response:

Any right winger, however wacky or outrageous, who aligns with Romney will bring in some votes. And as to the money Trump might bring, Romney has already shown what he is. He’s just trying to get the best price.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.