While President Obama touted a middle class-centric economic agenda at Lake Harriet, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was a few miles away focusing on voters that Democrats see as pivotal to their political success: women.
Pelosi, the former U.S. House speaker from San Francisco, participated in a discussion that's part of an economic agenda being promoted by House Democrats that they've dubbed "When Women Succeed, America Succeeds." It includes three principle policy goals: fair pay, paid leave and affordable child care options.
"What is the best thing we can do to grow our economy? Unleash the power of women in our economy," Pelosi told a group of about four dozen invited guests at Temple Israel in Minneapolis. U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison joined Pelosi for the discussion, which also included several women who shared stories of challenges in the workforce.
House Democrats have held around 70 such sessions in recent months, with Pelosi participating in nearly 30 of them.
Both Obama and Pelosi attended a Thursday night fundraiser in Minneapolis for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which defends Democratic-held seats in the U.S. House and funds candidates trying to unseat Republicans.
Asked about U.S. House races in Minnesota this year, Pelosi said the top priority was holding on to seats of three Democratic incumbents in greater Minnesota: Rick Nolan in northeastern Minnesota, Collin Peterson in western Minnesota and Tim Walz in southern Minnesota. Ellison and Rep. Betty McCollum represent Minneapolis- and St. Paul-based districts with high numbers of Democrats.
Tyler Q. Houlton, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Pelosi is "right to be worried about Rick Nolan and Collin Peterson's re-election chances in November. No amount of Pelosi's money will erase their long voting records."
The economic agenda laid out by Pelosi and Ellison is similar to a package of new laws that Minnesota legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton passed into law earlier this year. That package, called the "Women's Economic Security Act," included law changes meant to shrink pay differentials between men and women, and other changes intended to increase womens' earning power.
Pelosi praised the Minnesota effort, which becomes law next week, and said it should be a model for the Congress.