CHANTILLY, Va. — The fight for the female vote is back in a big way, if it ever really left. At a campaign rally here outside D.C. Wednesday, Mitt Romney stood in a small business owned by women — there were signs to remind you as much, in case you forgot — and in front of a riser full of other women businesses-owners. This was no coincidence.
“Americans are hurting. And what you’re seeing behind me with these women entrepreneurs and innovators … are people who normally the economy relies upon to reignite an economy in trouble,” Romney said. “And what the president has done, I think unknowingly having never spent any time in the private sector himself, is make it harder and harder for small business to thrive and to start up. It was the most anti-small business administration I think I’ve seen since Carter. Who would have thought we’d look back at the Carter years as the good old days?”
Romney was introduced by his wife, Ann — standard procedure on the campaign trail — and she name-checked the ladies in the audience, too.
“Women really do make the world go ‘round,” she said.
Romney’s appearance was bracketed by a press release from his campaign blaring, “Obama’s Record For Working Women Is Nothing To Be ‘Proud’ About.”
Running behind in Virginia, and trailing Obama with women nationally, Romney stepped back into the battle over the female vote Wednesday. In keeping with his strategy of reaching out to women by not talking to them as women, the brief reference to the gender of the businesswomen behind him was the only direct shout-out to the ladies in the speech. The rest involved ticking off a list of Obama’s economic failures, and claiming — again — the president is trying to “punish success” and pit one American (namely a rich person) against another (a not-so-rich person.) This has been Romney’s standard line for months, amped up after the fight over the Buffett Rule.
The venue did its part to give the ladies their due, however. The Romney event was hosted by Exhibit Edge, an event planning service. Center stage was a large Exhibit Edge banner reading, “We are a women owned business utilizing other women owned and diverse businesses.”
The crowd assembled for the presumptive Republican nominee packed only about half of the Exhibit Edge warehouse, making it more closely resemble a stop from the primaries than a big general election moment. Romney has another public appearance Wednesday in the commonwealth, where he will appear down to the coast with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), who is on a lot of VP shortlists.
But standing up for women wasn’t the only record Romney touted Wednesday. He also told a new anecdote about his tenure at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Committee, when people waited in line for an hour for a flag pin. That, he said, spoke volumes about his vision for America.
“This nation was not made great by Americans castigating and demonizing one another, this nation was made great by Americans standing together and celebrating success.
We stand as a Americans. We’ve seen that at certain times. I had the occasion, as you perhaps know, of helping organize the Olympic Winter Games in 2002. Following 9/11, that great tragedy which was just prior to our games, one of the people in our team said why don’t we create an Olympic pin which says, ‘United We Stand’ on it and it has the symbol of the flag. And this, obviously was not a new idea, everybody else in the country was doing the same thing, but we thought it was a new idea at the time. And so we created a little pin and we notified people that we’re now going to be selling these pins and the proceeds are going to go [to charity]. We identified where we were going to be selling these, and then we wondered if people were going to show up to buy these pins. And we announced it … and I just remember going downstairs after it was announced — we were in a big, tall skyscraper in Salt Lake City, and it must have been next door I think where they were selling these pins, and there was a line all the way down the street. People stood in line, as I recall, for well over an hour, just to be willing to buy a little pin that said we care.”