Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stopped in Highlands Ranch last week to campaign on behalf of President Obama, speaking to a standing-room-only crowd to talk about social equality and the importance of the upcoming election.
For Albright, who was appointed by President Clinton as the country’s first female secretary of state, it was a homecoming of sorts. Albright spent her teen years in the area while her father worked as a professor at the University of Denver.
“In some ways, Colorado will always be my home,” she said. “It is where my family was welcomed after fleeing communism in my native Czechoslovakia and where my father was able to embark on a second career.”
Albright said her parents taught her “a lot about the responsibilities of being an American, and about our nation’s role in the world.” They also had a hand in inspiring her strong interest in international affairs. It never occurred to her that one day she might become secretary of state, however.
“It’s not that I lacked ambition,” she said. “It’s just that I had never seen a secretary of state in a skirt.”
And while Albright herself embodies the changing role of women in government, she pointed to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that Obama signed his first week in office as one of the reasons she feels women everywhere should support the president.
“This was a sign of his administration’s commitment to equal opportunity and social justice,” she said. “He understands that this is not just a women’s issue. It is an economic issue that affects millions of families across the country, where women are half of the country’s workforce.”
Albright does not believe that Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s policies would support women. She pointed to another bill Obama signed, the Affordable Care Act, which Romney is against, as an example.
“(It’s) a plan the other party voted against and now wants to repeal,” she said. “I’m no expert, but I do know quite a few women who have survived breast cancer, and I believe that they and others who have pre-existing medical conditions should be able to obtain insurance, and at a reasonable price. Thanks to President Obama, women now have access to new services such as screenings, with no out-of-pocket cost.”
Albright also cautioned those in attendance that whoever wins this next election will most likely have a gigantic say in the shaping of the Supreme Court.
“Almost half of the current justices are expected to retire in the next few years,” she said. “This means that, if Mr. Romney wins, the Court will likely have a 7-2 right-wing majority for the next decade or more. That wouldn’t be healthy for women or for our country. Mr. Obama, more than Mr. Romney, can be counted on to choose judges because of their qualifications, not their ideology.”
Albright went on to say that Obama has, “without much fanfare, become the world’s most widely respected national leader.”
“We should all remember that, upon taking office, the president inherited an incredible mess, including two wars, an international economic crisis, and America’s reputation diminished around the world,” she said. “No president has a magic wand, but Mr. Obama has put us on the right track.
“He has struck blow after blow against al-Qaeda, weakening its support, and eliminating Osama bin Laden. He kept his promise to extricate our troops from Iraq, where they never should have been in the first place. Despite pressure from many directions, he has remained steady in his course, and begun a transition to local control in Afghanistan. With our allies, he helped to end 40 years of dictatorship in Libya and has applied intense pressure to repressive governments in Syria and Iran.”
On the economic front, Albright stated that Obama has encouraged a rise in U.S. exports, and that for the last two and a half years, the number of private-sector jobs has increased every month in the U.S.
“She reiterated what I think very much about President Obama being the best choice for us this election, for many reasons,” said P.J. Schmerber, a 56-year-old volunteer from Highlands Ranch. “I agree that there is a clear choice when it comes to world affairs, the economy, health and education, the environment, equal opportunity, social justice, all of those issues. Obama’s policies are definitely better for women.”