ST. PETERSBURG — Feminist, author and political activist Gloria Steinem on Saturday described Mitt Romney as the most extremist presidential candidate ever.
Appearing at downtown St. Petersburg's Jannus Live venue for a get-out-the-vote rally, Steinem told about 150 people that Romney refused to take a stand on equal pay for women and would threaten reproductive rights if elected.
"Mr. Romney is the most undemocratic, anti-equality … extremist candidate I've ever seen, bar none," Steinem said. "The great centrist … Republican Party needs to come back."
Steinem's appearance was part of the "I Am Choice" campaign, which encourages people to vote all the way down the lengthy two-page ballot and reject all 11 state constitutional amendments.
The campaign is especially focusing on urging people to vote no on Amendment 6, which would ban public funds from going to abortion services or health coverage that includes abortions.
Steinem, 78, criticized Romney for refusing to come out to support equal pay, which she said would inject $200 billion into the U.S. economy. She noted that weekly pay for white women was $137 behind their male counterparts. The number is $300 for women of color, Steinem said.
"You know these women aren't going to put that money in a Cayman Islands bank account," Steinem said. "They're going to spend it."
She told the crowd they should not trust Romney's promise that he would not curtail reproductive freedom. "Neither a corporation nor a fertilized egg is a person," Steinem said. "A pregnant woman doesn't get two votes."
Steinem said, while she supported President Obama, she wasn't speaking as a surrogate of his campaign.
Jill Bader, a Florida spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said it was Obama, not Romney, who is failing women.
"President Obama's presidency has been particularly hostile to women, with nearly 5.5 million women currently unemployed and a record-high 25.7 million women living in poverty," Bader said. "Women across Florida know Obama's record of failure is unacceptable."
William R. Levesque can be reached at [email protected]