President Barack Obama and his White House team used a June 4 press conference about women’s pay to draw media attention away from the June 5 Wisconsin recall election, which has the potential to tip the battleground state against him in November.
Obama has not visited the state to support the Democratic candidate for governor, Tom Barrett, even through Obama flew around the state on a two-state June 1 fundraising trip.
For June 4, he’s flying to three fundraisers in New York. His June 5 calendar has not been announced.
“We’ve made progress but we’ve got more to do… at a time when we’re in a make-or-break moment for the middle class, Congress has to step up and do the job,” Obama told reporters in a rare telephone press conference on Monday.
“This is more than just about fairness – woman are the breadwinners for a lot of families,” he declared in a short statement that was introduced and complemented by chief adviser Valerie Jarrett and by Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House policy council.
Obama did not take questions.
The questions would likely have focused on the Wisconsin election, or disappointing June 1 job numbers, which showed unemployment rising from 8.1 percent to 8.2 percent.
At a later press conference, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that “the President endorsed Tom Barrett… the president supports him, stands by him and if you talk to the [Barrett] campaign, I’m sure they can give you more details about how that support is manifested.”
“The president absolutely stands by Tom Barrett, and uh, hopes he prevails,” he added.
Obama’s press call audience included reporters and a significant number of feminist interest groups that are supporting a bill that would pressure companies to pay female workers the same as male workers, even if men are willing to work longer hours.
The Democratic-controlled Senate has scheduled a critical vote on the bill for June 5, the day of the Wisconsin election. (SEE ALSO: Pelosi gives Senate Democrats who pay women less a pass, scolds companies)
Wisconsin is holding the June 5 recall election because state Democrats and unions are trying unseat Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
However, polls show Walker with a slight lead, setting the stage for an embarrassing and demoralizing defeat for Wisconsin Democrats.
The likely ratification for Walker, and likely defeat for state’s Democratic Party, could aid Mitt Romney’s campaign in the state.
A win for Romney in the state would give him an extra 10 electoral votes, almost as much as Virginia’s 13 votes and one more vote than Colorado’ nine votes.
Four polls in May showed Obama averaging only 49 percent in the state, while Romney is averaging 44.3 percent.
George W. Bush lost the state by just 0.4 percent in 2004, and by only 0.22 percent in 2000.