Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Why Paul Ryan is not 'bad' for women

By Anita McBride, Special to CNN
updated 3:49 PM EDT, Mon August 20, 2012
Anita McBride says women have much to attract them to a Romney-Ryan ticket.
Anita McBride says women have much to attract them to a Romney-Ryan ticket.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Some think the choice of Paul Ryan as vice presidential nominee would turn off women
  • Anita McBride: It is misguided to think that women vote as a bloc
  • She says Ryan has distinguished himself by having the courage to offer big ideas
  • McBride: Women would welcome Ryan's efforts in tackling pressing issues facing Americans

Editor's note: Anita McBride is an executive-in-residence at America University in Washington. She was first lady Laura Bush's chief of staff and worked in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.

(CNN) -- When Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan as his running mate, the media frenzy surrounding the announcement included claims that the choice was bad for women and that it would not attract women voters. Ryan's pro-life voting record was especially highlighted, and once again, the "war on women" came to the forefront and diverted attention from the ultimate women's issue in this election -- our dire economic future.

It is misguided to think that women vote as a bloc. We are a diverse group, and it is nearly impossible for any candidate to appeal to all sides of the political spectrum. The reality is that women's top concerns are the same as men's, and like men, women are more likely to vote along party lines.

U.S. Rep. Ryan's addition to the Republican ticket ensures that the debate about the economy will be vigorous. For women, and all Americans, nothing can be more important.

Akin remark puts abortion at center of campaign debate

Anita McBride
Anita McBride

Women I know and talk to around the country are struggling with a new normal -- unemployment or underemployment, declining wages, having to work harder and longer to make ends meet, increasing food prices, rising gas prices and most of all the fear that their kids will have it even tougher than they do. They are making difficult decisions every day when it comes to their family budget. It is not a rosy picture.

Why would Ryan appeal to women? A peek at his early life is illuminating.

Ryan, who grew up the son of a lawyer, lost his father at 16 and was then raised by a single mother. He helped to care for a grandmother afflicted with Alzheimer's disease who lived with the family, worked after school at McDonald's to earn extra money and used some of his father's Social Security death benefits to help pay his way through school.

I appreciate Ryan's personal experiences. Having lost my own mother to cancer at 3, I grew up with my father working two jobs and lived with my grandparents, who took care of us. I also used Social Security death benefits to help put myself through school and became the first in my family of immigrants to go to college.

The Ryan family, like many families in America today, was not immune to experiencing a period of uncertainty. Ryan says this formative period in his life shaped his attitude about self-reliance -- it never occurred to him that his life would not get better. At an event in Arlington, Virginia, on Friday he reminded the audience that aspirations are at the heart of the American Dream.

Over the past week, we have learned a lot more about Ryan's own path and his career in Washington as a budget wonk, rising to become the youngest chairman of the House Budget Committee. There are many voices in Washington, but few have the depth and knowledge about the $16 trillion national debt and its crippling effect on the country and the aspirations of future generations.

I find it reassuring that Romney made the choice to select Paul Ryan.

Ryan has distinguished himself by having the courage to offer big ideas and he is forcing a serious discussion about how to reform entitlements. He deserves credit for talking tough and leveling with the American people about what's involved in changing the course of our current predicament.

Opinion: Rape can make you pregnant. Period.

We all know President Barack Obama walked into a very dire economic situation when he came to office, but over the past few years, his policy of growing the government has not put the nation back to work. The poverty rate of women, for example, has climbed to its highest level in nearly two decades and doubts about providing for their families have not been alleviated.

American women have to ask themselves if they want a federal government that respects their hard-earned dollars as much as it respects their right to choose.

When they do, I am confident they will not be distracted by media hype and attack ads painting Ryan as hostile to women's concerns; rather, they will find his efforts to stop the buck from being passed to another generation very appealing.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Anita McBride.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 1:33 AM EST, Thu December 25, 2014
Danny Cevallos says the legislature didn't have to get involved in regulating how people greet each other
updated 6:12 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Marc Harrold suggests a way to move forward after the deaths of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
updated 8:36 AM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Simon Moya-Smith says Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket, who was killed by law enforcement officers, deserves justice.
updated 2:14 PM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Val Lauder says that for 1,700 years, people have been debating when, and how, to celebrate Christmas
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Raphael Sperry says architects should change their ethics code to ban involvement in designing torture chambers
updated 10:35 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Paul Callan says Sony is right to call for blocking the tweeting of private emails stolen by hackers
updated 7:57 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As Christmas arrives, eyes turn naturally toward Bethlehem. But have we got our history of Christmas right? Jay Parini explores.
updated 11:29 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
The late Joe Cocker somehow found himself among the rock 'n' roll aristocracy who showed up in Woodstock to help administer a collective blessing upon a generation.
updated 4:15 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
History may not judge Obama kindly on Syria or even Iraq. But for a lame duck president, he seems to have quacking left to do, says Aaron Miller.
updated 1:11 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Terrorism and WMD -- it's easy to understand why these consistently make the headlines. But small arms can be devastating too, says Rachel Stohl.
updated 1:08 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Ever since "Bridge-gate" threatened to derail Chris Christie's chances for 2016, Jeb Bush has been hinting he might run. Julian Zelizer looks at why he could win.
updated 1:53 PM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
New York's decision to ban hydraulic fracturing was more about politics than good environmental policy, argues Jeremy Carl.
updated 3:19 PM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
On perhaps this year's most compelling drama, the credits have yet to roll. But we still need to learn some cyber lessons to protect America, suggest John McCain.
updated 5:39 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
updated 8:12 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
updated 12:09 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
updated 6:45 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
updated 4:34 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
updated 2:51 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Jeff Yang says the film industry's surrender will have lasting implications.
updated 4:13 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Newt Gingrich: No one should underestimate the historic importance of the collapse of American defenses in the Sony Pictures attack.
updated 7:55 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
Dean Obeidallah asks how the genuine Stephen Colbert will do, compared to "Stephen Colbert"
updated 12:34 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Some GOP politicians want drug tests for welfare recipients; Eric Liu says bailed-out execs should get equal treatment
updated 8:42 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Louis Perez: Obama introduced a long-absent element of lucidity into U.S. policy on Cuba.
updated 12:40 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT