ORLANDO — President Barack Obama came to Florida to make a pitch for women's pocketbook issues Thursday, calling for legislation requiring equal pay for equal work and saying Congress would get more done if it had more women.
With Obama and his health care law a political liability in some parts of the country, the president is trying to help his party's effort to win November elections by leading a debate on economic issues and bringing in campaign funds.
White House aides say turning out female voters, particularly single women, will be a key to Democratic performance in November so Obama is putting extra emphasis on financial challenges facing that demographic, including equal pay.
"I've got a personal stake in seeing women get ahead," Obama said from a Valencia College stage filled with 25 women of diverse ages and ethnicities. "First of all, women make up 80 percent of my household, if you count my mother-in-law, and I always count my mother-in-law." He also noted he was raised by a single mother, with the support of a grandmother who he said hit a "glass ceiling" at the bank where she trained men to become her boss.
Florida has one of the country's most competitive gubernatorial races with incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott facing Democratic former Gov. Charlie Crist. But Crist did not appear publicly with Obama and only planned to see him at a private fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee.
The DNC fundraiser was one of two the president was headlining Thursday evening in Miami with tickets costing up to $32,400. The other, at the home of former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning, benefits the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. About 75 people were expected to attend that reception and dinner, versus around 25 supporters attending the earlier DNC roundtable discussion at the home of Univision Spanish television host Lili Estefan.
Crist, a former Republican, has been effusive in his praise of Obama and embraced Obama's health care program, which Scott and the GOP have been using against him. Health care also has been a touchy issue for Scott, who favored expanding Medicaid last year but dropped it after the GOP-controlled legislature shot it down.
Obama's Valencia College event was the first in a series of regional forums planned in the lead-up to a Working Families Summit he's hosting in Washington on June 23. Others were being planned for Denver, Chicago and other cities.