President Barack Obama’s re- election campaign is planning to seize upon the recent partisan bickering over health care, contraception and abortion to garner the women’s vote in the November presidential election.
The Chicago-based campaign plans a “Nurses for Obama” event March 13, including mailings in many states and 16 phone banks in New Hampshire to urge support for the health-care overhaul law signed by the Democratic president almost two years ago, according to a campaign official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about campaign strategy.
The campaign website gives details on the benefits of the health-care law, a frequent target of Republican candidates who say it should be repealed, including requirements that new health insurance plans cover women’s preventative services, mammograms and birth control pills.
The women’s vote is important to both parties because, since 1986, women have voted more than men, at least in congressional races, according to Census Bureau figures. In the 2010 midterm elections, 42.7 percent of eligible women voters cast ballots while 40.9 percent of the men did so,
The special focus on women in the days ahead, first reported by the New York Times and confirmed by an Obama campaign official, follows confusion created by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney over his stance on whether employers can opt out of health-care coverage involving contraception.
Control of Contraception
“If you’re a woman, who do you think should have control over your choice to use contraception: You or your employer?” said Stephanie Cutter, Obama deputy campaign manager, in a Feb. 29 e-mail.
A debate in the Virginia legislature over a bill that required an extra medical procedure before an abortion trigged protests in Richmond, the state capital, and argument from Democrats that the step would be unconstitutional and that its intent was to discourage women from having abortions.
In the March 13 primaries in Mississippi and Alabama, Republican candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich competed for support from evangelical Christians, who oppose abortion rights and gay marriage, and from anti-tax Tea Party supporters. By remaining in the race, Gingrich is splitting that vote rather than allowing it to consolidate behind Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator’s aides said.
“I think these cultural — don’t like to use the term wars — these cultural, divisive, wedge issues, the rollback of women’s rights and other health, rollback-averting rights, rollback of workers’ rights, all of these things that take us back are not strengthening our economy and creating jobs,” Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, said today on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Obama offered support to a Georgetown University law student in a telephone call the day after radio host Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut.” The student told Congress in testimony she favored the Obama administration’s policy requiring insurers to provide birth control to women. Limbaugh has apologized for the remarks.
Obama, at a press conference March 6, wouldn’t say whether Limbaugh’s remarks will result in greater support for Democrats, adding that the women’s vote is “not going to be driven by one statement by one radio announcer.”
“I’m not somebody who believes that women are going to be single-issue voters; they never have been,” Obama said.