The Democratic National Convention Committee has added a number of women to its list of speakers, highlighting the party's continued courting of female voters this election cycle.
Ten additional convention speakers, all women, were announced on Wednesday, including Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards, NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan, Obama campaign co-chair Eva Longoria and Georgetown student and activist Sarah Fluke.
These prominent women will join an already star-studded speaker list for the 2012 Democratic Convention to be held the first week of September in Charlotte, North Carolina. Former President Bill Clinton, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry are already confirmed speakers.
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will provide the keynote address, the first Hispanic American to do so in U.S. history. The choice of speakers - including Castro and the large female presence - falls neatly in line with the Democrats' strong courting of minority and female voters this year.
The addition of the NARAL and Planned Parenthood presidents also comes just days after Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin's remarks once again pushed rape and abortion into the national spotlight.
The issues, which hadn't received heavy attention this election cycle in which the economy has dominated voters' minds, are among those on which Republicans and Democrats have some of the starkest platform differences.
Akin this weekend said pregnancy can be biologically avoided in cases of "legitimate rape." Although he walked back his remarks and apologized in an ad, party leaders still encouraged Akin to drop out of the race. However, Akin refused to honor the request, saying he would stay in the race on principle.
Meanwhile, Republican drafters of the 60-page convention platform, which will be voted on and adopted this weekend, reaffirmed the party's strict anti-abortion stance. Currently, the platform supports a constitutional amendment banning all abortion, even in the case of rape.
After releasing the draft Tuesday, panel chairman and Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell defended the stance, saying it "reflects the views of the grassroots leaders" of the party and that specifics of the ban would be worked out by states.
"Any indication other than we should strongly support the laws that protect women from violence are just absolutely wrong," McDonnell added.
Democratic pundits and party leaders are saying the draft shows Akin and other far-right Republicans' views are becoming the "new norm" for GOP politics. Although a Democratic platform draft has not yet been released, the inclusion of so many pro-choice speakers indicates it will represent a stark contrast to the Republican policy stance.
Including the aforementioned speakers, the Democratic National Convention will also feature:
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin
Former Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Tammy Duckworth
Denise Juneau, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Montana
Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland
California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper
Former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick
Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland
Massachusetts Senate Candidate Elizabeth Warren
by RTT Staff Writer
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