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Dean, Michelle Obama Rally Female Voters

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and Michelle Obama today sought to rally hundreds of women delegates and activists, saying female voters could make the difference this fall in sending Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) to the White House.

“Women will make the difference in this campaign. We cannot and will not take women’s votes for granted,” Michelle Obama said.

The women’s caucus meeting featured speeches including former Vermont Gov. Madeleine Kunin, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).

Michelle Obama addressed issues such as the need for expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act and protecting abortion rights.

“Things like economic stability, the health of our environment, health care, equal pay, all of those issues are not just political, they’re personal,” Obama said.

Dean emphasized the importance of a “do-it-yourself campaign,” where supporters go through a series of neighborhood outreaches to secure 20 percent to 30 percent of the votes before the polls open. Supporters should “knock on four doors, 40 times” as well as encourage supporters to vote early, he said.

“This is the difference between whether we do or whether we don’t win the election,” Dean said.

Kunin agreed and made mention of Barack Obama’s former primary opponent, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.). “We cannot take the women’s vote for granted. Hillary supports Obama, and so do I,” Kunin said.

Kunin spoke on the issue of female representation in Congress, noting the poor representation when compared to other countries in the world such as Iraq and Afghanistan, which have quotas of 25 percent female membership.

“We have to ask, why are we 72nd out of 142 countries in the percentage of women in our parliament?” Kunin said. “We have to ask women to run for office, and we have to support them.”

Four abortion protesters were escorted out of the meeting after they tried to chant “abortion hurts women.” The enthusiastic crowd responded with “Obama, Obama.”