For weeks, Republicans have denied there’s a “war on women” raging, as Democrats have declared. Now they’re admitting the war exists — and it’s being led, they charge, by President Obama.
Democrats seized the line of attack after congressional Republicans pushed to allow employers to deny contraception coverage to women. The message gained steam after Rush Limbaugh’s smear of a law student who spoke out in favor of birth-control access.
On Tuesday, Romney surrogate Bay Buchanan, former treasurer to President Reagan, pushed back aggressively in a call with reporters, suggesting that the “real war on women” is reflective in President Obama’s handling of the economy. The impacts of his policies, she said, have been “frightening,” “unsettling” and “an outrage.”
“It’s clear his policies have failed women miserably,” Buchanan said. “It has set women in the workplace back 20 years and we certainly can’t afford it, nor can the children of these women, afford to continue in this direction.”
The call dovetailed a statement by team Romney headlined, “President Obama isn’t working for women.” To back up the claim, the campaign cites data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that women have suffered economically — considerably more than men — in the wake of the Great Recession.
The Republican National Committee has also pushed a similar message, with co-chair Sharon Day lamenting, “For far too long women have been left behind in Obama’s job market.”
The argument rests on the premise that the economic harm to women is the fault of Obama’s policies, as opposed to an ailing national marketplace that is disproportionately impacting different demographics.
Buchanan’s tactic reflects a broader Romney strategy of projecting his own weaknesses onto Obama. The Obama campaign is certain to hammer Romney for his support of the Blunt amendment that exacerbated GOP woes with women. Apart from bashing GOP policies on abortion and Planned Parenthood, Dems also tout their 2009 Lilly Ledbetter law establishing equal pay for women.
Buchanan’s counter-attack — that Obama is the candidate women really need to worry about — indicates an effort by the Romney campaign to ease the fallout.