News Column

Obama Campaign Cites Women's Issues Ahead of Romney's Va. Event

May 3, 2012

Olympia Meola

Ahead of Mitt Romney's appearance in Portsmouth today with Gov. Bob McDonnell, a supporter and often-mentioned vice presidential possibility, President Obama's campaign sought to keep a focus on women's issues, releasing a memo that says "Among other unfortunate similarities, Romney and McDonnell share an extreme agenda on women's health and economic security."

The campaign also launched an online tool called "The Life of Julia" that walks people through various stages of a woman's life, from childhood to retirement, and "lets women see how both President Obama and Mitt Romney's policies would affect a typical middle-class woman at each step in her life."

While Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, is expected to speak on energy independence today, the Obama campaign's focus on women's issues could forecast a line of attack should McDonnell land the No. 2 spot on the Republican ticket.

"Governor McDonnell has resorted to running television ads to try and improve his reputation among Virginia women after pushing through a law that mandates women undergo ultrasounds that doctors say serve no medical purpose," Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for the Obama campaign, writes in the memo.

McDonnell's approval rating and support among women voters slipped after this year's General Assembly, during which lawmakers passed -- and he signed -- a measure requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion. The legislation was a focus of protests and vigils that drew hundreds to the State Capitol.

McDonnell is still a popular governor, but his 53 percent approval rating in a March Quinnipiac University poll was the lowest since Quinnipiac began polling in the state in June 2011. In February, 58 percent said they approved of the job he's doing while 24 percent disapproved.

Women polled approved of McDonnell 49-34 percent, down from 54-25 percent in February, while men approve of how he's handling his job 58-31 percent, compared with 62-23 percent in February.

That same late March poll showed Obama leading Romney in Virginia by 8 percentage points, with a 13-point advantage among women voters -- 52 percent to 39 percent.

Romney addressed businesswomen Wednesday at an event in Chantilly. Before his appearance this afternoon in Portsmouth, his campaign criticized Obama on energy policy.

"At a time when nearly 23 million Americans are struggling for work, President Obama has sacrificed thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue by targeting Virginia's offshore drilling efforts," Amanda Henneberg, Romney campaign spokeswoman, said in a release.

"This is just the latest example of a president who is more interested in playing politics than creating jobs and getting the economy moving again."

Virginia's lease sale was scheduled for 2011, but the federal government delayed it until at least 2017 after the April-July 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

In November, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the oil and gas leasing plan for 2012-2017 -- and Virginia did not make the list.

Obama will hold a campaign rally in Richmond on Saturday, but will travel on official business to Arlington the day before to talk to juniors and seniors and their parents about student loan interest rates.

Republicans announced this morning that earlier on Friday, McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Del. Barbara J. Comstock, R-Fairfax, will visit a Richmond business to discuss what they called Obama's "disastrous economic record."

Source: (c) 2012 the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Va.)

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