Women have returned to the campaign spotlight. And this time, Republicans and the Romney campaign are working hard not to get caught flat-footed.
On Wednesday, President Obama was introduced in Colorado by Sandra Fluke, the former Georgetown Law student who came to embody the so-called Republican “war on women” earlier this year. The Fluke event was part of a larger women-centric push from Team Obama that includes a tough new TV ad and a focus on Romney’s plan to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
The Obama campaign leveraged Fluke’s story — and the attacks on her from Rush Limbaugh — as well as GOP anti-abortion legislation and the Republican push to let some employers get out of providing contraception coverage to derail Romney’s general election roll-out.
Within days of defeating his last serious GOP primary opponent, Romney was scrambling to give even a lackluster response to the Obama campaign’s attacks over women’s issues.
Eventually the campaign moved on to other issues, but not before Republicans got their licks in when a Democratic strategist said Ann Romney never worked a day in her life. That rallied the GOP and turned Ann Romney into an untouchable folk hero among conservative women.
But even with that flash of success, polls showed the attacks over women’s issues did serious damage to Republicans, Romney in particular. According to the PollTracker Average Obama leads Romney among women by a margin of 52.3 percent to 41.6 percent.
Republicans were furious that Democrats spun what they see as traditional, family-oriented views into a “war on women.” This time, they’re coming to the fight prepared.
Romney announced a new Women for Mitt program Wednesday, led by Ann Romney, which will hold two events in Virginia hosted by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and other Republican women. Later this month, the GOP convention in Tampa will be filled with female speakers — giving a diverse, women-friendly face to what has typically been a boy’s club event.
The Romney camp has also suggested it’s considering women, including Condoleezza Rice and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, for the VP slot.
On the trail, Romney’s working hard to push back on the Obama attacks. He decried a new Obama ad that attacks his abortion stance. The Obama ad didn’t pass the fact-checker test, but it did force Romney to defend his views on abortion. Which is what Obama wants.