Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Why Paul Ryan is not 'bad' for women

By Anita McBride, Special to CNN
August 20, 2012 -- Updated 1949 GMT (0349 HKT)
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
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1356 GMT (2156 HKT)
Ukraine's president says the downing of MH17 was a terrorist act, but Richard Barrett says it would be considered terrorism only if it was intentional
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 2015 GMT (0415 HKT)
Robert McIntyre says the loophole that lets firms avoid taxes should be closed
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1928 GMT (0328 HKT)
Aaron Miller says Kerry needs the cooperation of Hamas, Israel, Egypt and others if he is to succeed in his peacemaking efforts
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1535 GMT (2335 HKT)
Jeronimo Saldana and Malik Burnett say Gov. Perry's plan to send National Guard to the border won't solve the escalating immigration problem.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1742 GMT (0142 HKT)
Sally Kohn: The world's fish and waters are polluted and under threat. Be very careful what fish you eat
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1242 GMT (2042 HKT)
Les Abend says threat information that pilots respond to is only as good as the intelligence from air traffic controllers. And none of it is a match for a radar-guided missile
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
Frida Ghitis: Anger over MH17 is growing against pro-Russia separatists. It's time for the Dutch government to lead, she writes
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1227 GMT (2027 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says President Obama called inequality the "defining challenge" of our time but hasn't followed through.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1157 GMT (1957 HKT)
Gene Seymour says the 'Rockford Files' actor worked the persona of the principled coward, charming audiences on big and small screen for generations
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
Daniel Treisman says that when the Russian leader tied his fate to the Ukraine separatists, he set the stage for his current risky predicament
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1642 GMT (0042 HKT)
Andrew Kuchins says urgent diplomacy -- not sanctions -- is needed to de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine that helped lead to the downing of an airliner there.
July 19, 2014 -- Updated 0150 GMT (0950 HKT)
Jim Hall and Peter Goelz say there should be an immediate and thorough investigation into what happened to MH17.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT)
Pilot Bill Palmer says main defense commercial jets have against missiles is to avoid flying over conflict areas.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1755 GMT (0155 HKT)
Valerie Jarrett says that working women should not be discriminated against because they are pregnant.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1953 GMT (0353 HKT)
David Wheeler says the next time you get a difficult customer representative, think about recording the call.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1933 GMT (0333 HKT)
Newt Gingrich says the more dangerous the world becomes the more Obama hides in a fantasy world.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1011 GMT (1811 HKT)
Michael Desch: It's hard to see why anyone, including Russia and its local allies, would have intentionally targeted the Malaysian Airlines flight
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
LZ Granderson says we must remember our visceral horror at the news of children killed in an airstrike on a Gaza beach next time our politicians talk of war
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Sally Kohn says now the House GOP wants to sue Obama for not implementing a law fast enough, a law they voted down 50 times, all reason has left the room.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1214 GMT (2014 HKT)
A street sign for Wall Street
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, John McCain and others want to scale back the "too big to fail" banks that put us at risk of another financial collapse.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 2016 GMT (0416 HKT)
Newt Gingrich writes an open letter to Robert McDonald, the nominee to head the Veterans Administration.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1601 GMT (0001 HKT)
Paul Begala says Dick Cheney has caused an inordinate amount of damage yet continues in a relentless effort to revise the history of his failures.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1404 GMT (2204 HKT)
Kids who takes cell phones to bed are not sleeping, says Mel Robbins. Make them park their phones with the parents at night.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1729 GMT (0129 HKT)
Buzz Aldrin looked at planet Earth as he stood on talcum-like lunar dust 45 years ago. He thinks the next frontier should be Mars.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1804 GMT (0204 HKT)
Mark Zeller never thought my Afghan translator would save his life by killing two Taliban fighters who were about to kill him. The Taliban retaliated by placing him on the top of its kill list.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1518 GMT (2318 HKT)
Jeff Yang says an all-white cast of Asian characters in cartoonish costumes is racially offensive.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0124 GMT (0924 HKT)
Gary Ginsberg says the late John F. Kennedy Jr.'s reaction to an event in 1995 summed up his character
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Meg Urry says most falling space debris lands on the planet harmlessly and with no witnesses.
ADVERTISEMENT