President Barack Obama sent a video message to the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) Pro-Choice America dinner Tuesday night, welcoming incoming NARAL president Ilyse Hogue — an activist who has called the tea party “racist” and suggested Mitt Romney wants rape victims thrown into the water.
Obama’s 2012 deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, spoke at the event, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that paved the way for contemporary abortion rights. The dinner was held at the Washington Hilton. Tables ranged from $3,000 to $25,000.
“Tonight we celebrate the historic Roe v. Wade decision handed down 40 years ago, but we also gather to recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that women should be able to make their own choices about their bodies and their health care,” Obama said in his video message. (RELATED BLOG: The most vile pro-choice argument you’ll hear all week)
“And I welcome Ilyse Hogue, who we know will continue Nancy’s legacy of outstanding leadership of this organization,” Obama said, referring to Hogue’s replacement of Nancy Keenan as NARAL president.
Hogue is a veteran left-wing activist who said that freedom to choose is “foundational to every other thing we want to achieve” in a video released Tuesday by NARAL called “Meet Ilyse Hogue.”
“That’s why they attack our right to choose when, and how, and with whom we have a family,” Hogue said in the video, referring to those who disagree with her politically. “That freedom to decide is foundational to every other thing we want to achieve for ourselves, our families, and our country.”
“The rise of the tea party has surfaced a real desire on the part of a few to ramp up restrictions on women’s freedom and to do what I call ‘stuff the genie back in the bottle,’” Hogue said in the video.
Hogue also spoke at the conference Tuesday. “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” co-creator Lizz Winstead tweeted, “Wow Ilyse Hogue is killing it.”
Hogue called tea partiers “racist” and “dangerous” in her remarks at the June 2010 Campaign for America’s Future conference, where she spoke alongside Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas.
“They’re dangerous. There are some very dangerous elements, and when they get racist and when they spit on our congressmen and when they do things that are just completely outside the bounds of what we believe our democracy to be about, we have to call them on it,” Hogue said.
Hogue has also accused Mitt Romney of wanting to have rape victims “thrown into the water.”
“While [Paul] Ryan allows lesser candidates like Akin to carry the water on extreme views held by the right-wing patriarchy, his equally radical views become mainstreamed as his anti-woman credentials are embraced by the party leadership. If we don’t stop laughing and start drawing hard lines around scientific reality, how many Akins will it take before we see a President Romney ordering rape victims thrown into the water to see if they float?” Hogue wrote in August 2012 for The Nation.
In 2012, Hogue helped launch the super PAC Friends of Democracy with liberal billionaire George Soros’ son Jonathan Soros. Hogue served as a co-director of the PAC.
Her efforts earned her a citation from the Huffington Post as one of the “50 women who made the 2012 election.” She also serves on the board of directors of Rebuild the Dream, an organization founded by former Obama green jobs czar and 9/11 “truther” Van Jones.
Before joining NARAL, Hogue served as senior adviser to Media Matters for America, where she “focused on advocacy programs to undercut the power of right-wing media.”
Hogue also worked as a political and communications strategist for MoveOn.org from 2006 to 2011, program director at the Rainforest Action Network and “forest issues specialist” for Greenpeace. Hogue is a vocal Occupy supporter.