December 7, 2012

N.H. women bring perspective to politics

The five women holding the top N.H. political offices discuss their lives as female politicians.

The Associated Press

MANCHESTER, N.H. – The five women holding New Hampshire's top political offices said Friday that women bring a unique perspective to politics.

Maggie Hassan, Ann McLane Kuster, Carol Shea-Porter, Kelly Ayotte, Jeanne Shaheen
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The five women holding New Hampshire's top political offices, from left, Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan, U.S. Reps.-elect Ann McLane Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter, and U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen discuss what their lives are like as female politicians during a panel discussion Friday Dec. 7, 2012 at the Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan, U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte and U.S. Reps.-elect Ann McLane Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter appeared on a panel to discuss what their lives are like as female politicians.

They said they are no different than their male colleagues in caring about the interests of the state and nation, but see things through a woman's eyes.

"As women, we have different experiences than men," Shaheen said.

Kuster said women have to make peace with toddlers to teenagers. If you can do that, "you can find common ground," she said. "We know how to get things done."

Shea-Porter, who is returning to Congress after losing in 2010, said she served on the House Armed Services Committee and the male members would quiz witnesses about the nuts and bolts of an operation to a country while the women asked if the country's people wanted the United States to come there.

Shaheen, Ayotte, Kuster and Shea-Porter are the nation's first all-female congressional delegation. Hassan is New Hampshire's second female governor. Shaheen was its first. Ayotte is a Republican. The others are Democrats.

The five also said they hope the historic firsts they have made in getting elected won't be the norm in the future.

"Hopefully we'll get to a point where it is no longer significant," Shaheen said.

Kuster joked that "pink is the new power color in New Hampshire."

All said they expect a woman will be president in their lifetimes. Ayotte, who was mentioned as a possible running mate for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said her 8-year-old daughter, Kate, already has a claim on the office. Ayotte said Kate told her she should not run for president because "I want to be the first woman president."

All pledged to reach across the aisle to work on solutions to problems. They said they had more in common to unite them than differences.

Hassan, a former state senator, said when her disabled son had surgery in 2005, a conservative Republican colleague called her every day to check on him.

"We're parents first," she said

Ayotte and Shaheen said in the next two years they will focus on putting the nation in a stronger fiscal position.

"I'm just really worried about the state of our country," Ayotte said.

"We've got to put everything on the table," Shaheen agreed.

Shea-Porter and Kuster said protecting Social Security and Medicare are on their priority list because older women are more reliant on Social Security and Medicare than men who often earned more in their working lives due to inequalities in how men and women are treated by employers.

The event was sponsored by the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, the New Hampshire Women's Initiative and the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.


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