House minority leader Nancy Pelosi rode into Boston on a large purple bus Monday to raise money, bolster a vulnerable Massachusetts Democrat, and champion her party’s economic agenda for equal pay, affordable child care, and paid sick leave for women.
Pelosi’s bus tour, which included US Representative John F. Tierney and other members of the Massachusetts delegation, stopped at a Hyde Park industrial park where Pelosi was greeted by a warm, cheering crowd. After the event, the Democratic leader stressed that her visit to the Hub was about sending a strong message to Republicans about key bread-and-butter issues, rather than mere politics.
“We are hoping to go back to a place where it is a given . . . that women should be paid equally for equal work, that women should have a decent wage and shouldn’t have to raise their children in poverty, that we have paid sick leave, and that we have child care,’’ she said. “This is about the issues more than it is about politics. It’s about our country.”
But Pelosi’s trip was also clearly geared toward boosting Tierney, a Salem Democrat fighting to hold his seat, with challenges coming from inside his own party and from the Republican who nearly unseated him in 2012.
Just last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee booked more than $1.4 million worth of television time this fall to help Tierney. In Hyde Park, Pelosi spoke glowingly of Tierney, saying the veteran congressman knows what is central to women’s work, including access to education.
Pelosi also helped headline an afternoon tea Monday at the InterContinental Hotel with Michelle Obama and US Representative Steve Israel, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which aims to wrest control of the House of Representatives from Republicans.
The committee said 200 people paid from $500 a person to $32,400 a couple to attend the tea. US Representative Katherine Clark, who introduced Obama, said Republicans have “consistently blocked every single attempt at making life better for American families.”
Standing in front of a blue curtain and six American flags, Obama noted that Democrats are 17 seats away from taking back the House and urged more people to vote in the midterm elections.
“We need to call them and remind them that the midterms are coming, and we need to give them a ride to the polls to make sure they get there,” the first lady said to loud applause.
Earlier in the day, shortly after noon, Pelosi arrived outside the offices of Roxbury Technology Corp. on a bus bearing the slogan “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds,” the theme for the Democratic economic agenda for women and families.
The bus carried 15 Democrats, most of them women. Championing an increase to the federal minimum wage, speakers said that 50 years after President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, women still earn less than men. Women make only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, and for black and Latino women, the pay gap is even wider. Black women average 64 cents and Latinos earn 55 cents on average for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men, said US Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, who spoke at the event.
“We have been trying to get reforms that will make these statistics a thing of the past,’’ Kennedy said, citing data from a study by his cousin, Maria Shriver. “We’ve been fighting from the day I got into office and long before . . . to raise the minimum wage and establish paycheck fairness.”
During his speech, Tierney saved his punches for the current House leadership, saying that “the wrong team’’ is in power and that bills ensuring equal pay, paid sick leave, and affordable, good-quality child care will not pass with Republicans in power.
“We have a situation here, and this is having the wrong team in charge,’’ Tierney said.
‘This is about the issues more than it is about politics. It’s about our country.’
Ian Prior, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, shot back in an e-mail, saying Pelosi and Tierney are peddling “phony statistics” and not focused on real solutions.
“Women should absolutely receive equal pay for equal work, and we need to find real solutions that can provide better opportunities while improving our economy,’’ Prior said.
Republican Richard Tisei, who is mounting another challenge after narrowly losing to Tierney in 2012, also took aim at the incumbent’s record on women, saying public records show he underpaid them.
“He says he’s for pay equality, but in his own Congressional office he’s only paying women 82 cents on the dollar compared to men, according to public records,’’ said Tisei’s spokesman, Charlie Szold. “It’s not surprising that today’s bus tour skipped the Sixth District, because people here have been missing his leadership for 17 years.”
Loren Soltani, a spokeswoman for Tierney, said that two-thirds of Tierney’s staff is made up of women and that their average salary and benefit packages were 2 percent more than their male counterparts.
Tierney is also facing a candidate in the Democratic primary, Marine veteran Seth Moulton.Meghan E. Irons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @meghanirons.