With the recent face-plant of Todd Akin in Missouri, Democrats think they have hit on a winning theme for their convention in Charlotte. Agenda changes show that Democrats will make Akin the poster boy of the GOP and focus the three-day affair on abortion and contraception policy, Paul Bedard reports:
Just as the Akin crisis was reaching a crescendo, the Democrats on Wednesday announced that three starlets of the pro-choice movement will be featured at the convention, an event that will now drive the liberal charge that the Republicans are anti-women.
Democrats said that they will feature Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parent Action Fund, Nancy Keenan, president of the NARAL Pro-Choice America and Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University student whose plea for federal birth control funding drew the ire–and a subsequent apology–from Rush Limbaugh.
What’s more, the Democrats are expanding their list of women ready to assail the GOP on women’s issue, adding Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski and actress Eva Longoria to the list that already includes Sen. John Kerry and Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren.
What a great idea! After all, the issue of abortion and contraception doesn’t even appear on the radar screen for voters in this cycle, as polls from Gallup and the CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac partnership attest. Jennifer Rubin has a few suggestions for Democrats as to how to stage their Abortion-palooza:
The Democrats, reports suggest, are going to focus their convention in Charlotte, N.C. ( a right-to-work state that voted to ban gay marriage), on Todd Akin, to a surprisingly large extent. This will be quite amusing when he eventually drops out. But at least we know they are attuned to abortion, an issue that registers at less than 1 percent in Gallup’s poll asking about voters’ most important issues.
It’s not clear if they will have a single abortion night or multiple nights on the subject. Maybe they could call their three convention nights “trimesters,” and on the last of these extol their devotion to late-term and partial-birth abortions. President Obama has spoken eloquently on the topic.
It is, I think, appropriate to devote this much focus to abortion since there is no issue closer to the soul of the Democratic Party than the right to abort a baby for any reason at any time. No candidate for high office in the Democratic Party can say otherwise and expect to have a national presence. I mean when the media talk about an issue for days and days, it’s got to be important.
Be sure to include abortion in that third “trimester,” just as Barack Obama supports it in real life.
With this in mind, let’s turn to what Republicans need to do next week in order to win the convention battle. In my column today at The Fiscal Times, I outline four keys for the GOP — and the biggest key is message discipline:
If there was any benefit to the Todd Akin fiasco in Missouri this week, it comes as a reminder to insist on message discipline in Tampa, Florida. The issues that voters care most about in poll after poll this cycle are the economy, job creation, and federal budget deficits that will once again exceed a trillion dollars for the fourth year in a row. Providentially, the Republican ticket has an enormous level of credibility on these issues, with Mitt Romney’s long track record of private-sector success and Paul Ryan’s record of offering specific budgetary reform.
Republicans have an opportunity to speak directly to voters on these issues, which will also highlight how the Obama campaign has avoided addressing them at all. That means that Romney and Ryan will need to be specific enough to emphasize that they have a plan to fix the economy, without getting into a 59-point presentation. Concepts and principles should dominate their presentations.
At the same time, organizers should insist that speakers support the focus on economics and budgetary issues. If the convention speakers begin drifting away from these core issues, especially on social issues after the controversy over Akin’s remarks, it plays directly into the distraction strategy of Democrats — and will have the media talking about nothing else.
This could set up a clear contrast between Romney and Obama, and Republicans and Democrats. Romney and the Republicans will talk about issues that concern voters most, offer clear alternatives to the failed policies of the Obama administration, and thereby convince undecided voters that Romney is a serious candidate. If the GOP convention can do that, it will make the Democratic Abortion-palooza not only look much more petty, but also make it clear that Obama and the Democrats are intellectually bankrupt on the key issues of this electoral cycle.
Update: Changed the front-page pic after a couple of reader complaints. I wanted to emphasize that I also discuss Romney and the GOP convention in the post, but I think the complaints are justified.