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In Manchester, EMILY’s List panel promotes a “Madam President” — and Clinton

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, left, speaks at an Emily's List  town hall discussion entitled "Madam President" with the organization president Stephanie Schriock, center, and moderator Tiffany Eddy on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 in Manchester, N.H. The group is encouraging women to run for office, including the office of president. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, left, speaks at an Emily's List town hall discussion entitled "Madam President" with the organization president Stephanie Schriock, center, and moderator Tiffany Eddy on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 in Manchester, N.H. The group is encouraging women to run for office, including the office of president. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

It’s long past time for the United States to elect a woman as president.

That was the message yesterday at a town hall-style meeting in Manchester organized by EMILY’s List, a national group that raises money for pro-choice Democratic women. And while the “Madam President” event wasn’t billed as endorsing any one candidate, one name came up again and again: Hillary Clinton, the former U.S. senator and secretary of state who ran in 2008 and may run again in 2016.

“Go to the Ready for Hillary website. . . . Let’s send a message that we want her to run,” said former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm as the event came to a close.

New Hampshire will hold the first presidential primary in 2016. EMILY’s List held a similar event last month in Iowa, which will hold the first caucuses, and plans to hold one in Nevada, another early voting state, in January.

“It’s time to ensure that we see a woman president – not just one, but many in the years to come,” said Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List.

Still, Granholm said the ultimate goal was to make gender almost a nonfactor.

“There are a lot of women who will be with Hillary Clinton when she runs because they want to be part of that history. But whatever you have done to make it almost irrelevant what gender the person . . . running (is), that’s what we would like to see happen across this country,” she said. “It should be no story that there is a woman who’s running for president, or a woman who is president. It should just be boring. Breaking a glass ceiling should be that, you know, somebody punched a hole in your sunroof, and that’s it.”

Schriock, Granholm and political analyst Jamal Simmons participated in a panel discussion moderated by former WMUR anchor Tiffany Eddy and took questions from the audience of nearly 50 people at the Puritan Backroom’s attached conference center.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen had been scheduled to speak at the event, but the New Hampshire Democrat remained in Washington yesterday for Senate business.

Gov. Maggie Hassan opened the event by highlighting New Hampshire’s success in electing and promoting women. The governor, the speaker of the House and the chief justice of the state Supreme Court are all women, and the state has an all-female congressional delegation.

“I get asked all the time, ‘What’s in the water in New Hampshire, that you elected all these women?’ ” Hassan said to laughter. “What’s in the water is opportunity. We are a state in which we welcome anyone who wants to work hard and engage and contribute, whether it’s in their family or in the workplace or in their communities. And most Granite Staters contribute in all those arenas, all at the same time, because we have a history of citizen engagement and volunteerism.”

The New Hampshire Republican Party wasn’t impressed, dismissing yesterday’s event as a “liberal forum” intended to promote Clinton and Democrats.

“In 2014 and 2016, women are looking for candidates who will fix our economy, get our fiscal house in order and preserve prosperity and opportunity for our children and future generations,” said Chairwoman Jennifer Horn in a statement. “Republicans have the vision and the plans to save our country from fiscal insolvency and create jobs for all Americans.”

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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