Fwd: Pool Report #2

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From: George Condon >
Date: April 12, 2016 at 12:19:44 PM EDT
To: "Barnes, Desiree N." >
Subject: Pool Report #2

The president spoke for 11 minutes, from 11:35 to 11:46 a.m., to a crowd predominantly women in a tent behind the house. They were seated in 10 rows of chairs with 14 chairs in a row. You will have the transcript, but some highlights:  He praised Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for their work on designation this house as a national monument. And he hailed Billie Jean King as "one of our greatest athletes of all time" and "a heroine of mine." He called equal pay for equal work "a simple idea, a simple principle" but "one where we still fall short," noting that the "gap is even wider for women of color." America, he said, "should have a level playing field. We don't want some of our best players on the sideline." While noting some progress, he said, "Congress needs to pay the paycheck fairness act." To applause, he added, "I'm not here just to say we should close the wage gap. I'm here to say we will close the wage gap.

He praised Alice Paul as a "brilliant strategist" and recalled the seven-day-a-week picketing of the White House to demand women's suffrage. "They were mocked; they were derided; they were beaten," he said. But they prevailed. He also talked about the later years of activism conducted from the house, calling it "a hotbed of activism." "Today, I am very proud to designate it as America's newest national monument." He said he wants young women to "come here and be astonished" at the notion that women ever were denied the vote, or denied equal pay, or that a woman could not be elected president. "I don't know how long it will take to get there," he said, adding that the day is "getting closer." He urged a recognitioin that "this is not a sprint, it is a marathon." He said he hoped people "come here and draw inspiration," concluding, "We are never finished. We are a constant work in progress."

He was introduced by  by Chitra Panjabi, a former employee of the Sewall-Belmont House who , the White House said, "has dedicated her life to working for women's equality." Originally from Hong Kong, Chitra noted that she became a United States citizen last year and cast her first ballot in November. She said she became a citizen on Aug. 18, 2015. She said,, "Thank you, Mr. President, for recognizing the contribution of these women to our country."

The motorcade departed the house at 11:51 and was back at the White House at 11:56.

George Condon, National Journal

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