Former Secretary of State urges women to vote Obama


Madeleine Albright tells a room full of Cleveland women that the women’s rights movement will revert back to an earlier, less free time in history if the next President isn’t Barack Obama. Left to right: Obama for America National Women’s Vote Director Kate Chapek, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Ohio first lady Frances Strickland and District 13 Ohio House Representative Nickie Antonio. Photo by Kelsey Misbrener.

Kelsey Misbrener

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other,” in the dimly lit Stone Mad Pub on the West Side of Cleveland Monday morning.

And by “help each other,” the short-statured yet powerfully outspoken Albright means to vote for Barack Obama.

Of the Romney-Ryan agenda, Albright said, “so much of it is about putting women back in American history.”

Women benefit in a Democratic environment, Albright said, because they have reproductive rights, equal pay and overall equal footing with their male counterparts.

“We can’t afford to have Gov. Romney as president,” Albright said. “Every election is important, but I think this one will truly define what America’s about.”

Four large, wooden tables at the pub were filled with about nine women each (and three men, not including the reporters) who worked for Democratic campaigns, small businesses or social services in Cuyahoga County. The group of women nodded in agreement and clapped their hands when Albright said things like, “Each of us needs to figure it out so we don’t have some rich man telling us what we can’t do.”

One attendee, Mallory McMaster, is a member of NARAL Pro-Choice America. She thinks women should have complete control of their reproductive choices.

She said Romney said he’d sign the Personhood USA pledge, which says any fertilized egg is a person. The Personhood USA pledge would ban abortion completely and also “hamper the ability to get some forms of birth control,” according to

“If we can control our life choices — decide when we want to have children — we are better able to feed them, clothe them, house them, educate them,” McMaster said. “And that sets them up to make better choices for their lives.”

Four out of the seven Republican presidential candidates have signed the Personhood USA pledge, according to

“It’s a huge threat to women,” McMaster said.

But a Democratic president is important to Albright for more than women’s rights. She said America thrives best when individuals work together within a community framework. She wants society to bridge the gap between rich and poor.

Small business owners voting for Romney for tax purposes should rethink their strategy, Albright said. If a small business gets a tax cut but the middle-class citizens who would spend money there do not, they won’t get much business. The whole United States must prosper for any one business to prosper. And that means equal taxes for all, not tax cuts for the wealthy.

It was no coincidence the event was held at a small business owned by Eileen Sammon, a Democrat who graduated from Kent State in 1989.

Sammon said as a woman, she had to “jump higher and work harder” to get her business off the ground but thinks the working world is getting easier for women. She will vote for Obama to continue the trend.

“There’s never been an election in which women’s rights was one of the biggest issues,” said Marcia Levine, the president of Cleveland Public Theatre.

Normally, you’d have to read all the way down a candidate’s ticket to find his or her stance on women’s issues, Levine said. Now, it’s at the top.

Contact Kelsey Misbrener at [email protected].