Women for Mitch Press ConferencePosted by Kristin Turner on September 2, 2013
On Friday, Senator Mitch McConnell kicked off his “Women for Mitch” coalition in Louisville, Kentucky. The event began like any typical political event but quickly turned into a once in a lifetime kind of event. A side of Mitch that I believe few have seen was showcased at this event. The oppositions campaign would love nothing more than for Mitch to be billed as what they term “anti-woman”. However, it was very clear to the women in this room that Senator McConnell has a heart for mothers and women in general. Women from all 120 counties in Kentucky have signed on to join this coalition.
Speaking at this event, Former U.S Labor Secretary Elaine Chao was quick to defend her husband’s record on issues facing women. A few of the issues she commented on were pushing to increase funding for breast cancer research and mobile health clinics, flexible work schedule legislation for mothers, and the problem of sexual assault on woman soldiers. “I have spent my life breaking through glass ceilings, and I’ve done it with Mitch by my side supporting me 1,000 percent”, she stated.
The event was held at Century Mortgage Co., so it was only fitting that owner Monica Bohn get up and tell her story. Monica started Century Mortgage with her husband who passed away in 2010 and left her to run the business. Her story told how in one of her most trying times Mitch stood with her. She went to him to help stop or change the Dodd-Frank Act, in a time when her personal life and business were falling apart because of the recession. From this relationship, a continued relationship with the Senate has been possible for Century Mortgage. Another notable business leader Allison Ball, an attorney from Prestonsburg, spoke about her feelings toward the “tepid reaction” to the current sexual harassment against state Representative John Arnold. Most notably calling out Alison Grimes for her lack of response to a man that works in the same building as her, while she bills herself as the only choice for women in Kentucky. She also called attention to the fact the Senator McConnell called for former Senator Bob Packwood to be removed from the senate when accused of similar charges.
The most moving moments of the press conference were the speeches of Dr. Noelle Hunter, a professor from Morehead, and Laura Sequeira, McConnell’s campaign finance director. Although these women are professionals, their stories spoke of more personal struggles. Noelle Hunter spoke first discussing her daughter’s abduction to Mali, Africa. She stated that Mitch has stood by her every step of the way. While she was in Mali petitioning the government, Senator McConnell was petitioning the senate and United States government on her behalf. While she was speaking, a somber feeling came over the room and there were very few dry eyes. The feeling continued when Laura Sequeira spoke about her 4 year-old’s cancer diagnosis. She received a phone call from the Senator in which he told her “stay home, focus on what’s important…I’ve got your back”. By the end of her speech, there were no dry eyes in the room. Seeing Senator McConnell and his wife get choked up was an interesting experience for me. Many believe that politicians don’t have a heart but I witnessed a moment where Mitch was just an ordinary caring father. The skeptic in many people would believe this event was staged to showcase the softer side of Senator McConnell that might appeal to women. However, standing in that room seeing him cry with and embrace both women showed me that these women’s issues mean more than votes to Mitch.
The last speech of the press conference was made by Senator McConnell himself. He got up and spoke candidly about two of the most important women in his life, the first being his mother and the second being his wife. McConnell discussed his childhood battle with Polio, which he has remained mostly silent on in the past. “I’ve always felt that the discipline that my mother demonstrated…taught me a very early lesson that, if you work hard, you’re likely to be able to overcome the obstacles,” states McConnell. He went on to express that the voters need to choose the person they see best representing them and Kentucky into the future.
Alison Lundergan Grimes was armed and ready to launch her attack against Mitch’s move to persuade women voters. Blasting Mitch by stating “Simply saying “I’m married to a woman” doesn’t speak loud enough. Senator McConnell’s actions over the course of 28 years show how he has failed to stand up for women”. While Grimes would love for Kentucky women to fall for the fact that this event could very well have been a well orchestrated attempt to gain women voters, anyone who attended this event or has researched Mitch’s record can see that Mitch truly cares about women and Kentuckians.