RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
When John McCain chose Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, it changed the political landscape in a number of ways. One example, the National Organization for Women, which backed Hillary Clinton in the primaries, suddenly felt pressure to endorse one of the remaining presidential nominees. To get an early read on what for this group will be an unusual move, we asked the president of NOW, Kim Gandy, into our Washington Studio. Good morning.
Ms. KIM GANDY (President, National Organization for Women): Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: Who will NOW be endorsing?
Ms. GANDY: NOW is going to be endorsing the Obama-Biden ticket a little bit later on this morning.
MONTAGNE: Just list for us briefly the main positions held by Barack Obama that you think would make him the right man to become president, and alternatively, John McCain, why he's the wrong man.
Ms. GANDY: Senator Obama has a tremendous record of support for women's rights from the Paycheck Fairness Act, equal pay for women - which John McCain, by the way, opposed - his support and sponsorship of legislation to increase work-family balance for women, something that's very critical. But the addition of Sarah Palin gave us a renewed sense of urgency because she's being portrayed as a supporter of women's rights. She's being portrayed as a feminist when in fact her positions on so many of the issues really are anathema to ours.
MONTAGNE: One of the calculations that it's thought the McCain campaign made, there was hope that some of Hillary Clinton's supporters would come over to the ticket when Sarah Palin was announced. In fact, women have been attracted to that campaign. To what degree do you think that is the case and why?
Ms. GANDY: There's no question that some women, a lot of women, think that it's a great thing for a woman to be running for vice president. But they are completely dismayed when they find out her positions, the idea that she opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Those kinds of positions are so completely out of step with American women that once women find out about those positions, they get a little less excited at the idea that there's a woman running.
MONTAGNE: Many women voters, though, do have a favorable opinion of Palin for all kinds of reason in the mix of who she is. Does that suggest that NOW is out of touch with a large group of American women?
Ms. GANDY: We know - the most recent surveys I've seen showed that only 42 percent of women view Palin favorably. I don't think that that's a tremendously high favorable rating. And of course it also depends on which women you're talking to. Among single women - never married, divorced, widowed - her favorable rating is extremely low, it's down to 32 percent.
MONTAGNE: Do you hear, though, from members of NOW who are in fact in support of Palin and make what you would find a good argument?
Ms. GANDY: You know, sure the NOW membership runs the whole gamut, and there definitely have been people who've written in in support of Palin. There are people who think that we should stay out of the race altogether because actually we very, very rarely endorse in a general election, this is almost unprecedented. But the overwhelming feedback we got from members and leaders is that we should endorse and support Obama and Biden because they've stood by women.
MONTAGNE: Kim Gandy, thank you very much for joining us.
Ms. GANDY: My pleasure.
MONTAGNE: Kim Gandy is the president of the National Organization for Women. NOW's political action committee announces it's endorsement of Barack Obama later today.
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