AMES/DES MOINES IOWA- Prominent women are arriving in Iowa to support former Secretary of State and now Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Clinton has been gaining the support of influential women in leading roles across the country and these women are proud to endorse the former New York Senator.
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards spent Saturday attending events throughout the state of Iowa encouraging women to support Clinton. Although Planned Parenthood is seen as a large resource for women across the country, it is a resource men and families, too.
Clinton is known for her activism for women’s rights, especially reproductive rights, making the decision easy for which candidate the nonprofit would endorse.
“There was one person that stood far and above everyone else… One person who had been a champion for women and families and reproductive healthcare access her entire career and that’s Hillary Clinton,” said Richards.
She has a track record of supporting organizations like Planned Parenthood. Richards said during her endorsement at Clinton’s campaign office in Ames that she is the only presidential candidate to have written any bills relating to women’s rights during her brief time in the United States Senate.
“While in the Senate she introduced eight different bills to expand healthcare and reproductive healthcare access,” Richards said. “Eight more than anyone else.”
Although Planned Parenthood endorses candidates during the general election, as shown by the organization’s backing of presidential hopeful Barack Obama in 2008 and again in 2010, Richards said this is the first time Planned Parenthood has endorsed a candidate this early in the race.
“We took this process very seriously,” Richards said.
She spoke about meeting with each of the candidates interested and being endorsed by Planned Parenthood. She said none of the Republican candidates were interested in doing so.
Richards said this election is pivotal, as is any election, but there is more on the line this time.
She said it is very important for Planned Parenthood as it is at a crossroads between the two parties. Richards said every single Republican candidate is looking to eliminate the non-profit, and she does not want to see women have to go back to the 1950s in terms of health care and the right to bodily autonomy.
Richards also said she hopes to see the issue of reproductive rights and issues surrounding a woman’s right to her own body, to become less of a party issue and become a universal issue.
“Health care is a basic human right. It shouldn’t come with a party label,” Richards said.
The Texas-native and daughter of former Texas Governor Ann Richards said she is unhappy that her home state forces women to travel hundreds of miles for “preventative healthcare”.
“It’s wrong and if there were ever a cautionary tale about whats at stake in this election, it is the state of Texas,” Richards said.
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While Richards’ endorsement can mean a lot to the Clinton campaign, there are other politically-invested women across the country who are joining Iowans to support Clinton.
Stephanie Shriock president of Emily’s List endorsed the former secretary of state Friday evening in a Clinton campaign manager’s home in Des Moines.
Emily’s List is a Political Action Committee (PAC) dedicated to recruiting, training and supporting Democratic, pro-choice, women get elected to office.
Shriock was first inspired by Clinton speaking while in college at Minnesota State University in Mankato, MN. She said she saw her speak while campaigning for her husband in the 1992 presidential election, when Bill Clinton was seeking his first term in office, and now here she is, supporting Clinton in hopes the former secretary of state becomes the first female president.
She said she supports Clinton for a number of reasons and she spoke of them on a snowy Friday night in Des Moines with a few community members to hear her speak.
The Emily’s List president spoke to Clinton’s admirable choices in life, whether it was her choice to go to law school when many women were not applying, let alone being accepted or when she took a job working for the Children’s Defense Fund.
Shriock said, as well as reiterated on Clinton’s homepage, that she chose not to head to New York or Washington D.C. to work for a prominent law firm, but to advocate for all children, no matter or socio-economic class or disability, to have the right to attend public schools.
Her homepage said, “It’s this commitment to public service and fighting for others—especially children and families—that she’s carried all her life,” which is what Shriock said during her endorsement announcement.
Throughout Clinton’s career, Shriock said, she has been able to “advance women’s leadership at every step of the way.”
When asked, Shriock said for first time millennial voters to just get out there and vote.
Emily’s List is especially interested in millennial women exercising their right to vote in the next election. The president of Emily’s List said, even more so focused on those women voting for Hillary Clinton.
“We are going to have a 20 million dollar independent expenditure program focused on millennials, really millennial women, to engage with the Hillary Clinton campaign,” Shriock said.
“Millennials, as a generation, will be the biggest voting block in 2016, bigger than the Baby Boomers,” Shriock said. “They have the power to direct this country.”
Shriock said Emily’s List is targeting millennials between the age of 18 to 29, instead of the accepted definition of a millennial between the ages of 18 and 35.
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Shriock and Richards are just two prominent women of the many who have openly supported and endorsed Clinton this weekend.
Among the recent supporters of Clinton, pop-singer and former Disney channel star Demi Lovato performed at the University of Iowa Thursday night to help draw millennial support for Clinton in Iowa.
With the caucuses approaching quickly, endorsements like this are vital to the perception of Clinton to women in this country.
“I truly believe there is nobody more qualified to run this country,” Lovato said.
Shriock believes seeing a woman running this country “would be an inspiration to women and girls in this country and around the world”.
“She will be a fighter and a champion and we have never needed one more because the stakes my friend are very, very dire for women in America,” Richards said.
Originally published on The Huffington Post. Co-written with Aimee Schnebeck.