The Swift Decision: Is There a Place for Mothers in Politics?

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Jane Swift, who made national headlines when she became the first Governor ever to give birth while in office, tearfully announced she would not run for the office this November.

Swift cited the difficulty of balancing the increasing demands of being Governor of a state in a budget crisis and being the mother the young twins who were born last year. But she also faced a huge uphill battle just to get the Republican nomination. Recent polls had her trailing Salt Lake City Olympics organizer Mitt Romney 75% to just 12%.

Swift has been wildly unpopular since she took over for Paul Cellucci, who joined the Bush administration as Ambassador to Canada. Some argue that many of the things she was criticized for — such as using a State Police helicopter to travel home to take care of her sick daughter and asking members of her staff to baby-sit for her — were unfair, because she was simply a working mother trying to balance a high-pressure job with the pressing needs of a young family.

This hour, we take a step back from the Jane Swift decision to look at the broader issue of women in politics. Women have made significant gains over the past couple of decades — but most of these women are beyond the child-bearing age. The pressures of being a working mom are difficult enough. But imagine the additional pressure if your job title is Governor or Senator or President. This hour, is there a place in politics for working moms? Or is politics reverting back to an age when only rich middle-aged men have access to political office?


Joan Vennochi, Boston Globe Columnist

Pat Schroeder, former Congresswoman and Presidential candidate

This program aired on March 19, 2002.


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