"Mr. Romney wants to get rid of funding for Planned Parenthood. I think that's a bad idea," President Obama said at a campaign event in Oregon. "I want them to control their own health care choices," Obama said of his two daughters. In the president's view of the world, fertility is a disease that needs to be treated.
But Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch of Wisconsin isn't buying it.
"I never really dug the 'War on Women.' It's great branding ... but I don't buy that product," Kleefisch explains. "The war is on unemployment, and that's the one I'll continue to fight, because it is the only one that really matters to my children."
Kleefisch just survived something of a war in her home state, coming out ahead in the nationally watched election to recall her and her boss, Gov. Scott Walker.
She finds Democrats' equating of health care and contraception as "insulting" to all women. "They're saying single women care more about their sex lives than they do about making ends meet, getting a good job and being successful living their American dream."
"Barack Obama doesn't make the priority lists of women in this country," Kleefisch tells me by phone, from a conservative political women's conference in Virginia. "The women make the priority lists. And the grocery lists, and the budgets. We make 90 percent of consumer household decisions in America. Start treating us with respect."
Kleefisch, who takes motherhood and marriage as seriously as she does political stewardship, will be back in the Badger State before her girls' bedtime. "From my corner of the world as a mom, raising two little women who one day will go to school and want a job in America, these are the things we need to prioritize."
Kleefisch is very much the concerned mom in her approach to governance -- what we don't confront now, the next generation will have to pay the consequences for. She expresses pride in Wisconsin's own Republican Rep. Paul Ryan for his serious, sober and much-remarked-upon actions as chairman of the House Budget Committee.
"If we don't get more jobs and get people who are unemployed the skills they need to take those jobs, then we're not going to fully recover from this recession," Kleefisch says about her state and national priorities. "And we won't become more productive as a nation."
As Wisconsin's "jobs ambassador," Kleefisch resents what the federal government's efforts to socialize health care are doing to future productivity and growth. "Small- business owners are scared right now," she reports. "(They) are wondering if they even want to be entrepreneurs. They're thinking in advance, 'How can I limit my growth?' That's not American. ... A plan that's supposed to be good for people's health is causing our businesses to anticipate how they're going to atrophy? It makes me sad as a small- business advocate, as a former small-business owner. That should never have been ... a side effect of a health care bill."
Despite the presidential rhetoric and the grueling recall, Kleefisch is optimistic and delighted to be back at work. She believes Wisconsin has "built endurance as a state" and is "an example." She's deeply grateful for the trust of Wisconsin voters in the face of a national onslaught.
According to a new Marist poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, nearly eight in 10 Americans are frustrated by the tone of political discourse. Having gone through some of the worst turmoil in recent history -- with some Wisconsin elected officials even leaving the state in protest -- we see some hope in Kleefisch, a happy woman warrior fighting those who want to insult the intelligence of Americans; a true public servant seeking to preserve, protect and help a free people flourish.
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