DWS: I desperately hope women’s issues come up in the debate

posted at 1:21 pm on October 16, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

All right, she said “fully expect,” but I think “desperately hope” probably characterizes the sentiment better since yesterday’s Gallup poll found President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney tied with women likely voters.

“I think they quite naturally will be a part of the debate, particularly because of the way the format is set up,” DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told TPM on a conference call about women’s issues Monday. “Given that it’s a town hall, and you have a moderator who’s essentially just facilitating the questions and the flow of discussion, I would fully expect these issues to come up because given that the audience is going to include a number of women who share the same concerns that we do, that those questions would be put to the candidates.”

DWS attributes the race’s tightening among women to the fact that contraception didn’t take up its rightful 74 percent of the debate time in Denver. I assume it will come up in some form tonight, if only because Obama will be anxious to steer the conversation that direction. Exorbitant news coverage of the issue, sometimes to the exclusion of all else, means it’s likely worked itself into even late-deciders’ understanding of the race, so I suppose that means there’s a higher likelihood of women’s-issue questions from swing voters or from moderator Candy Crowley, who covers domestic politics.

But does this one-pronged outreach work for the women Obama needs to decide in his favor right now? I’d argue no, but let’s let Melinda Henneberg explain. She’s the author of the “She the People” blog at the Washington Post:

But from what I can tell, the Obama team’s effort to make sure women aren’t abandoning the president en masse seems mostly to be focused on still more talk about choice.

The president and his surrogates gleefully pounced on Mitt Romney’s supposed attempt to fool women into thinking he supports abortion rights, though that’s not what I heard him say. And the first lady looked like she was going to cry when she talked on the stump this week about how reliably, solidly and down-to-the-bone pro-choice her husband is.

But since women are as closely divided as the population as a whole is on the abortion issue — with 49 to 45 percent favoring abortion rights, according to a recent USA Today-Gallup survey – the appeal to us has got to be significantly bigger than that.
In fact, the moderate, late-deciding, majority-female swing voters who the campaign still needs to reach at this point are not really the best audience for the one-note message that even the most casual news consumer must have fully grasped by now.

Or, as E.M. Zanotti puts it, “Lady voters voting with lady parts may actually be voting for Mitt Romney:”

Shocking, I know. Women don’t like to be patronized and bought off with a carrot of free birth control from their religious employer dangled in front of them, are smart enough to have a detailed understanding of complex domestic issues (particularly those that impact their family’s bottom line directly), and the capacity for both empathy and analysis. I realize this is shocking to the Vagina Voter Squad, who routinely limit the female intellect to crotch- and empty-uterus-based considerations, but it’s true. I mean, I’m sure putting Paul Ryan in skintight golf shirts has helped, but it appears the change in polling has been almost entirely based on the fact that women critically evaluate candidates and their plans.

And, what if by some chance women’s issues didn’t come up with the questioners in the audience? Obama will no doubt pivot to them after getting a mostly unrelated question from a female voter. Then, you have a scenario in which President This Is What a Feminist Looks Like ironically reduces a grown, sentient woman on national TV to, well, her lady parts.

But who could blame him? The very hip lady co-creator of “The Daily Show,” Lizz Winstead, thinks women are nothing but a uterus, so why should he think any differently? Observe your official content warning for this video from LadyPartsJustice.com, and tell me whether you think it will appeal to moderate, late-deciding women:

The intro video for the site— the first impression it wants to give you— features a fleshy simulated uterus smacking a purported Congressman in the face. Because I know, when I’m making my political arguments, prosthetic sexual organs are always key. Makes it a tad awkward in a bar after work, but hey, whatever I can do for the cause.

Meanwhile, American Crossroads is taking a different approach, with $11 million behind it in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia:

The ad campaign, set to begin Tuesday and run for a week in eight closely contested states, is part of a big push in the final three weeks before the Nov. 6 election…

The ad, “Sack It,” shows a woman watching one of Obama’s campaign commercials. “Mr. President, here’s what I want to know,” she says, asking about the jobs he has promised and wondering what the federal spending he has pushed for has produced.

She ends by saying, “My family can’t afford another four years like this.” The line echoes a theme Romney has repeated several times on the campaign trail in recent weeks — “We can’t afford four more years like the last for years.”

But how will they get the message without flying uteri?

Exit question (Allahpundit ™): Which party is backing a wife-beater for Congress in Ohio? Yeah.


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