Amid grappling with crisis in Ukraine, President Barack Obama made a pitch for women's pocketbook issues in Central Florida Thursday, calling for legislation requiring equal pay for equal work and saying Congress would get more done if it had more women.
Obama left for the event at Orlando's Valencia College after announcing additional sanctions against Russian officials from the White House's South Lawn, a public juggling of his duties as the country's chief executive and the Democratic Party's leader.
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.
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.
Crist's Republican rival was quick to respond to the trip.
"Today, President Obama is coming to Florida to raise money and do a campaign-style event," Scott said in a statement as Obama departed Washington. "No one knows specifically what he's going to talk about, but it's safe to say he won't be addressing the 1.3 million Florida seniors who are in danger of losing their health care benefits, doctors and hospitals as Medicare Advantage plans are being raided to fund Obamacare."
Obama spoke with students and administration, highlighting the role of women in the U.S. economy in his discussion. Obama is blending his economic and political pitches by calling for equal pay for women and for Congress to pass more family-friendly workplace policies.
Obama says women should get equal pay for equal work and says they should be able to have a baby without fear of losing a job. In his words, "This isn't 1958 -- it's 2014."
Obama made the gender-centered appeal Thursday during a political excursion into Florida. He told those gathered at Valencia College he wanted better educational opportunities for women.
The president says Congress should get rid of policies that, in his words, "belong in a 'Mad Men' episode."
He notes that women are a minority in Congress and says that more would get done if, quote, "you kind of evened that out a little bit."