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Kerry Reaches Out to Women Voters

Repackaging his domestic agenda on education, health care and jobs, Sen. John Kerry (search) pledged Friday to support working women and their children if elected president.

"At their jobs and at home, no one in this White House understands the challenges that they face. No matter how tough it gets, no one in the White House seems to be listening," Kerry said.

"The women I meet, they don't expect the government to do their jobs for them, but they do want leaders who are on their side as they try to do their jobs," he said.

Kerry said his combination of plans to raise the minimum wage, improve education and expand health care would help women struggling to care for their families.

Kerry reached out to working women as the campaign started to motivate the party's traditionally strongest supporters to come out and vote on Nov. 2. Exit polls showed that four years ago, 54 percent of women voted for Democrat Al Gore while 43 percent voted for President Bush.

An Associated Press poll showed that among likely voters, Kerry holds an edge over Bush among women. The AP-Ipsos survey showed Kerry with support from 55 percent of women and Bush with 40 percent.

Kerry told the mostly female audience in Milwaukee that he would reverse losses they suffered financially and educationally under the Republican administration.

"President Bush talks about an ownership society. Now we know what he really means," Kerry said. "'Sorry, you're on your own."'

Kerry said he wants to close the gap between wages paid to men and women and raise the minimum wage to $7 an hour. He also criticized the president for not allocating enough money for public schools and threatening women's retirements by having "raided the Social Security trust fund to pay for tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans."

In response, Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said Kerry has voted the wrong way for American women and their families during his 20 years in the Senate.

"John Kerry talks about making life better for women, but he voted for higher taxes on their gas. He voted for higher taxes on their Social Security benefits. He even voted for higher taxes on their children and their marriages," Schmidt said.