Top Republican woman in Congress becomes a force

May 19, 2012

By Thomas Ferraro | Reuters

In the last three weeks, she has sparred on national television with Democrats over Republican policies toward women, been called a “lying mouthpiece” by a liberal blog, and chided former House speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In the world of conservative politics, Republican Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers has arrived.

McMorris Rodgers has represented Washington state in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2005 but spent much of that time in relative obscurity, even while rising in 2009 to become the only woman among the senior Republican leadership in Congress.

That low-profile was raised in March, with three words that still make McMorris Rodgers cringe: “War on women.”

It is the phrase Democrats began using to cast Republicans as insensitive on issues such as equal pay for women, healthcare, protection against domestic abuse and abortion rights.

For McMorris Rodgers, 42, it was a call to action at a time when her male colleagues seemed reluctant to fire back at Democrats.

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