Felicia Muftic: Romney struggles with gender gap
April 17, 2012
Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist employed by CNN, created a political storm when she criticized Ann Romney for being the messenger and spokesperson for her husband Mitt Romney on what women were thinking.
Rosen commented that Mrs. Romney had “never worked a day in her life,” implying that she could not know the struggles of women less privileged. GOP pundits immediately seized on the comment as “a war on stay at home moms.” The Democrats, including President Obama, took issue with Rosen and were quick to pay homage to the tough job that stay at home moms have.
Republicans exploited the unfortunate sound bite to try to win back the support of women they had been losing. Lost in their noise was a valid point: It is not about whether stay at home moms work hard and deserve our respect. It is about the ability to choose whether to stay at home or work. Many women have no choice. There are women who would like to stay home, raise their kids, and be a homemaker, but they are either single or their husbands cannot bring home enough bacon to cover the costs of raising their family.
One important question women should be asking is which contender for president in November will make life easier for women who work or who want to work. Currently 65 percent of women with school-age children work outside the home.
The GOP and Romney have been making a case that job creation and improving the economy are so important to women, they will forget the dust-up that caused the women’s flight to Obama, who has a nearly sterling record of supporting pro-women’s rights policies. The Romney forces are miscalculating.
Event heaped upon event changed perceptions earlier this year. State legislatures dominated by the religious right attempted to force intrusive methods of ultrasound on women seeking abortions and advocated personhood amendments that could make contraceptives and even early term abortions murder. Opposition in the US House of Representatives to Obamacare provisions requiring employers to provide contraceptives with no co pay passed the Blunt Amendment that would exempt all employers who objected to contraceptives from compliance.
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Women suddenly woke up and realized that their access to low-cost contraceptives and even affordable non-abortion-related health care was endangered. Women understand that access to family planning makes it easier to go to work because they have control over their reproductive lives.
Romney had tried to establish conservative credentials by endorsing de-funding of Planned Parenthood and the Blunt amendment. He gave a tepid, tardy response when asked if he supported the Obama backed Lilly Ledbetter equal pay law, saying he would not repeal it. To make a case that it was Obama who is bad news for women (even though Obama’s position is nearly sterling in support of women’s rights ), Romney claimed that 92.3 percent of jobs lost since Obama took office were lost by women. Fact checkers quickly called those claims mostly false. (www.politifact.com and http://www.washingtonpost/blogs/fact-checker ). Others pointed out that the jobs Romney wants to cut in his rush to approve the Ryan-GOP budget plan are mostly those held by women who dominate the workforce of health care, teachers, and government workers.
There are several factors that could dim Romney’s hope women will swing back to his column.
• Many women remain in shock that long-established rights are under attack with the GOP’s and Romney’s tacit or expressed approval.
• Today’s media provides records of Romney’s position. Expect campaign ads run by Democrats reminding women on whose side Romney was in the sprig.
• Romney’s embracing of the same economic policies that caused the most epic job loss since the Great Depression will get great play by Democrats challenging the GOP’s case that Republicans would improve the economy and create jobs for women at a better rate than the Democrats.
For a more personal take on the issue, visit http://www.mufticforum.com
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