Paid leave and access to child care are surging to the top of the nation’s political debate as Democrats and Republicans seek to win votes and advance policies to address the economic struggles of families trying to raise children and hold jobs. Paid leave and child care are emerging as centerpiece issues for many Democrats, part of their broader attempt to portray Republicans as hostile to issues important to women. Potential 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton this month endorsed guaranteed paid leave, although she said it would take time before the federal government could move forward on the idea. President Obama has proposed $5 million in federal funding to support initiatives in states such as California, Rhode Island and New Jersey that offer leave to workers to care for new babies or ailing relatives. In providing paid leave or child care, the United States lags behind all rich countries and many less wealthy ones.