What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

What suburban women want from this year’s midterms

With less than two weeks until the midterm elections, both parties are making final pushes to rally their bases. But control of Congress could rest on one key demographic: suburban women. Political correspondent Lisa Desjardins sits down with a group of New Jersey women who want their voices heard and their votes to matter.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The countdown clock is winding down, with less than two weeks until the midterm elections.

    Both parties are making their final pushes to rally their bases in these final days. More and more, it appears control of Congress could rest on one key segment of the population: suburban women. That seems to be particularly true in New Jersey, where Lisa Desjardins sat down this week with a group of women who want their voices heard and their votes to matter.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I am here in the iconic Tick Tock Diner in Clifton, New Jersey, just outside of New York City, with four women who plan to vote in this year's midterm elections.

    Michele Rogers is a stay-at-home mom with three sons. She lives in Randolph, New Jersey. Uyen Khuong is also a stay-at-home mom of three in Madison, New Jersey. Marylyn McLaughlin is a travel agent in Morristown, New Jersey, and a mom of four. Karen Arakelian lives in Montville, New Jersey, and has two children. She is the owner of several furniture and design stores around the state.

    One reason we brought you all together is because, you know, this year, there has been so much talk about women, and you are seen, suburban women in particular, as a key force in this election.

    Do you feel like powerful people? Do you feel like the key force in this election?

    You're shaking your head no. What is most important to you right now, as you try and decide how to vote?

  • Marylyn McLaughlin:

    The economy, and it's New Jersey's economy, which, it's unaffordable. It's unaffordable for us.

    And people would say, OK, you're upper-middle-class. It's unaffordable for our poor. It's just unaffordable on all levels.

    I just — I feel like we need to get to the bottom of it and find out how to alleviate our tax issues, our tax problem.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You're a business owner. What do you think?

  • Karen Arakelian:

    Yes.

    I think that the Republican tax plan that was just started is causing a lot of good things to happen in the country and in the state. I mean, we have a very mixed population in New Jersey. We have people who make under $40,000, and we have people that make over $4 million.

    So the people making over $4 million will be paying more taxes. People like my — some of my family, they're going to be saving a lot of tax dollars this year. So I'm seeing the money being saved and spent. And I think it's good. I think it's a good thing.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Another economic issue that we hear about this year is health care. Do you all have health care concerns in your own lives, the cost of health care?

    Michele?

  • Michele Rogers:

    I think it definitely is an issue. They're saying they want to repeal Affordable Care Act. And yet there wasn't an adequate replacement.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Karen?

  • Karen Arakelian:

    I have a company where I employ over 25 people. And most of them are on our health care.

    I saw the premiums skyrocket after Obamacare came in. I don't really see what Obamacare has done for the people of this area. I right now have to fund the deductibles on all of my people. My company pays the deductibles, so that we can even afford to have health care. That's not a plan. It's not a plan.

  • Michele Rogers:

    Well, I think that — but what is the plan?

  • Karen Arakelian:

    I don't know.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Michele Rogers:

    Before you eliminate the Affordable Care Act, maybe try to fix it? Why throw the baby out with the bathwater? Make efforts to fix it.

  • Karen Arakelian:

    I totally agree. And the problem with that is, the Democrats don't want to hear anything that President Trump wants to do. It's…

  • Michele Rogers:

    I don't think that is true.

  • Karen Arakelian:

    Well, but it's a fact. I'm not — it's not a suggestion. It's a fact.

    They have to not be so staunch on if President Trump suggests it, we say no. And they did that with Kavanaugh. They turned down the candidate before he was even announced.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    What, if any, impact did the Brett Kavanaugh hearings have on you?

  • Karen Arakelian:

    Scared me, really scared me, because…

  • Michele Rogers:

    In what way?

  • Karen Arakelian:

    In what way? It could be my son. It could be any person of power that out of the blue an accusation can come out and ruin their life.

  • Marylyn McLaughlin:

    I'm with you because I — with that whole thing, too, I have — I have four sons. And one of them even said to me, you know, mom, in high school, there are (INAUDIBLE) moments for everybody in high school.

    And anybody in that room that was interrogating him probably had something in their high school career or time that they weren't very happy about. So some of the questions were ridiculous. They were political.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Michele, you also are the mother of a son.

  • Michele Rogers:

    I am, three sons.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Three sons.

  • Michele Rogers:

    Yes.

    And my perspective on it would be — and I actually know someone in our group, my — our immediate friend group, who was — their son was falsely accused. So I see what you're saying.

    But I think this is — I'm not — I'm not fearful for my sons, because I know — I know that the statistics are that, when you look at the number of sexual assault accusations and how many are not reported because they're afraid that they won't be believed, and they don't report it, the number of false accusations is minuscule.

    It's, I think, less than 1 percent, or 1 percent. So I'm not worried about my sons. I'm not, because I feel that I'm more worried about, if I had a daughter, I would worry about my daughter. I would worry about her being believed and being heard. That would be a larger concern.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    When you do have a daughter — go ahead.

  • Uyen Khuong:

    I have two sons and a daughter. But I want to get back to what Karen was saying.

    And what I want to — want us to, as people, to step away is, when a Trump Clinton or Trump nominee comes up, I don't want us to assume that the other side is already against it.

    I mean, there's enough — there's — there's enough open-mindedness to take a look at, because, for me, as — I'm a registered Democratic now, but, for sure, with everything that I look at, I'm really wanting to solve — because I love this country.

    For me, the way our country is — and it starts with the leader at the top. I feel that he is eroding the pillars of our democracy. And that's why I feel like I have to do what I can you do in order to take back the House to provide checks and balances. That's what I want. I want checks and balances.

  • Michele Rogers:

    I just wanted to say that I really loved what you were saying, because, for me, like, I totally agree. I don't — I don't like that you're either with me or you're stupid, or you're with me or you're wrong.

    Because I think a lot of what we're taking us fact is opinions. It is opinion. And I think it does start at the top, that that's my — that's been my problem since 2016, is that I feel like our leader — when we have a fractured country, our leader has pep rallies where he's calling me basically an idiot, he's calling me evil.

    I think that bringing our country together will have to start at the grassroots, because we're not getting it from the top.

  • Uyen Khuong:

    Yes. That's where I am.

  • Michele Rogers:

    And I think it needs to start at these tables and around the dinner tables and in our communities, because we're not getting that kumbaya from the top. We're getting the opposite.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I want to ask you to talk about the president.

  • Marylyn McLaughlin:

    I thought our country needed to go in a different direction.

    I thought that we were going in an entirely crazy direction. And it was illegal immigration, national security, the economy. We weren't really growing. We were meandering along. And I felt like a lot of voices weren't being heard.

    So I thought, OK, you talk about hope and change. He's not exactly the hope and change type personality you want, right? He's not my type of guy. But if we can look behind and see where we are a couple years later, I think we're heading in a — in a better direction.

    I know there's a lot of divisiveness in the country. But I think a lot of it stems from this crazy anger that he actually won. And I know he won, and I know a lot of people don't like him. And I know he says a lot of offensive things. And I wish he didn't.

    And I wish sometimes he would be a little bit more presidential. But that's not who he is. But I do believe he loves the country.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    My last question for you all is, if you could each just name a few words of what values you want in leaders, what — the words, what you want them to be?

  • Michele Rogers:

    Honesty, truthfulness.

  • Uyen Khuong:

    Moral, ethical.

  • Marylyn McLaughlin:

    Integrity.

  • Uyen Khuong:

    Kindness, respect for others.

  • Karen Arakelian:

    I want somebody smart, that sees the big picture, and that will work across party lines to get things done for the countries.

    And I think that we have that, and a lot of people don't recognize it.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You all almost agree.

    (LAUGHTER)

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Certainly on what you're looking for. You certainly agree, I think, in general, on what you're looking for.

  • Michele Rogers:

    Whether we have it or not, we probably don't agree.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    We can't thank you enough. Thank you all very much for joining us.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Uyen Khuong:

    Thank you so much.

Listen to this Segment

The Latest