In an appearance that attendees took as recognition of their clout, President Obama addressed the more than 5,000 women at the annual BlogHer conference, which is being held in Manhattan over the next three days.
Organizers said they also approached presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney about appearing at the conference, but that only Obama accepted the invitation.
“Thank you Mr. President for the respect you are showing to voters, and to this community in particular, by being with us,” BlogHer co-founder and COO Elisa Camahort Page said in her introduction of the president.
Grinning at the cheers from a crowd he could hear but not see during his 15-minute live video address, Obama said “the choice women face right now in this election could not be bigger.” Women’s issues, such as access to contraception and health care “are front and center as they should be,” he said, while acknowledging that “I bet anyone who spends a little time at your conference would see that women are not a monolithic bloc, they are not an interest group.”
Obama spoke of policy (“Obamacare, I happily accept the term,” he said) and also spoke personally.
“I wanted to say thank you,” he told the assembled bloggers. “Like every father, I think about the role models that are out there for my daughters, and I worry about what they will run into online,” he said. “The fact that Sasha and Malia can go to places like BlogHer” and read the writings of “thousands” of thoughtful women, is reassuring as a parent, he said.
Obama also said that his policy decisions are influenced by the fact that he is the father of two daughters, and that “women make up 80 percent of my own household, if you count my mother-in-law.”
“Every decision I make is to ensure that all of our daughters, as well as all of our sons, are growing up in a country that allows them to be anything they want to be,” he said.
As he disappeared from the screen, Camahort Page and her co-founder, Lisa Stone, officially opened the conference. But first, they celebrated his appearance with a victorious hug.
“Women are the majority of voters,” Page said in an interview before the event. “Women don’t only influence others about what to buy or what to watch but also influence others on how to vote. President Obama will tell us in his own words why he is here, but that is why we worked so hard to bring him here.”