By ZACH JAY
For The Daily New
MARQUETTE - Ronna Romney McDaniel, Mitt Romney's niece, visited Marquette Thursday for a roundtable coffee session with Upper Peninsula members of the Women for Mitt coalition.
AS PART OF the Women for Mitt Coalition, a roundtable discussion was held that included, from left, Diane Casperson, Ronna Romney McDaniel, Rita Noordyk, Margaret Minerick and Judy Benishek. The event was held at the Coachlight Restaurant in Marquette.
The coalition - which includes Judy Benishek, wife of U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, Diane Casperson, author and wife of State Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, and several U.P. female business owners - led a discussion focusing primarily on the economy.
Much of the discussion centered on what the coalition perceives to be President Barack Obama's economic failures, as well as Republican challenger Mitt Romney's plans to get the economy back on track, if elected.
"Women are so pivotal in this economy and in this race," said Romney McDaniel. "Women have been struggling so much under this administration. Our poverty rate is at the highest in 17 years; 5.5 million women are unemployed."
According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, in 2010 the overall poverty rate was 15.1 percent, the highest in 17 years.
The unemployment rate for women 20 years of age or older, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, was 7.1 percent in last month, down from 8.3 percent in September 2011.
"You can just feel it in our homes," said Romney McDaniel. "Our incomes are going down, and then the cost of gas and groceries are going up. So women are really looking at this race and how it's going to affect their families."
Also discussed at the roundtable was the proposed Marquette County Road 595 and the jobs created by the Rio Tinto Eagle Mine. The women talked about Romney's proposed energy policy and how it would affect the future of the U.P. in particular.
"I think the Upper Peninsula obviously has a vested interest in the energy policy that Mitt Romney's proposing," said Romney McDaniel, "Especially with coal being so prevalent here and Mitt Romney's interest in trying to help the EPA push coal along and mining for coal along so that we can become energy independent as a nation. I think that's something that will resonate in the U.P."
Rep. Benishek attended the event and said he appreciated the opportunity to listen in.
"It was great to hear the perspective of these women for Romney," he said. "Many of (these women) are business owners. They're involved in the family business. They're a partner in their businesses with their husbands. Women are partners in America. ... They want to see their family do well."