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Thursday, July 24, 2014
Democrats’ ‘war on women’ election tactic may be blowing up in their face
Republicans targeted on abortion, birth
control, equal pay
Democrats doubled down on the “war on women” meme after the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, which allowed the company’s religious owners to exclude four of the 20 birth-control methods required under Obamacare. (Associated Press)
DENVER — Some women are getting sick of the Democrats’ “war on women.”
Take Laura Carno, who became so fed up with the nonstop “war on women” political advertising campaign in Colorado that she put together a radio ad of her own. It’s aimed at Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat who’s pushing the theme in his re-election bid against Republican Rep. Cory Gardner.
“I have to ask, Sen. Udall, why do you get your underwear all in a bundle about women and birth control?” Ms. Carno, who heads the conservative group I Am Created Equal, says in the spot. “Do you honestly think we need the government to make these choices for us?”
Democrats are clearly convinced that the “war on women” strategy is key to their success in 2014, but they’re facing backlash from conservative women. Ms. Carno’s ad begins running Saturday in Denver and Colorado Springs, along with a robocall aimed at women voters.
“The feedback I’m hearing from women, especially women who aren’t involved in politics, is, ‘Why do they think I only care about birth control? Don’t they realize I’m more complicated than that?’” said Ms. Carno, who lives in Colorado Springs. “Women know how to get their own birth control. We’re pretty damn smart.”
In a campaign year dominated by a lackluster economy and Obamacare, however, the “war on women” may be the Democrats’ best campaign issue. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s Bannock Street Project is sinking $60 million into increasing turnout among key demographic groups, including women.
The Senate Majority PAC and other Democrat-friendly committees are targeting Republican candidates on issues like abortion, birth control and equal pay in states that could determine the balance of power in the Senate, including Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire and North Carolina.
“Take a stand immediately: Demand Republicans stop waging their disgusting War on Women,” says a petition on the DSCC website.
The DSCC played the Todd Akin card last week, comparing this year’s GOP Senate candidates to the Missouri Republican known for his “legitimate rape” comment in 2012.“Cory Gardner, Thom Tillis, Terri Lynn Land and Joni Ernst are cut from the same cloth as Todd Akin and embrace the same radical positions to block birth control and roll back women’s health care rights as he does,” said DSCC spokeswoman Regan Page.
The “war on women” tactic took off in 2010 when Colorado Sen. Michael F. Bennet used it to defeat Republican Ken Buck in a pro-GOP year. Republicans have countered this year by accusing Democrats of trying to frighten women voters with false charges.
“Democrats know there is only one nasty, bitter, divisive path to victory, and they have shown they will do whatever it takes — which means lying to and scaring female voters — in order to hold onto their majority,” said Brook Hougesen, National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman.
Of course, it’s tougher to sell the “war on women” when the Republican candidate is a woman.
Missy Shorey, executive director of the conservative women’s group Maggie’s List, said it’s Democrats who are waging the real war by moving to knock GOP women out of contested primaries.
She pointed to the Oregon Senate race, which saw a Democratic operative leak police files to the press on a domestic dispute involving Dr. Monica Wehby a week before the Republican primary in May.
Ms. Wehby won the five-way GOP primary despite the last-minute spate of negative publicity, but the tactic revealed that Democrats are less concerned with defending women than with protecting their own majorities, said Ms. Shorey.
“They do not want more women in Congress if they’re Republicans. That’s the reality,” said Ms. Shorey. “They would rather have a traditional male, who will follow their line of thinking and lead this country down a path of dependency, than a quality woman candidate who happens to be a Republican.”
Another Republican woman who’s been targeted by Democrats is former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, who’s seeking the party’s U.S. Senate nomination against Rep. Gary C. Peters. The primary is Aug. 5, but there’s no question which candidate Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, would prefer.
His Senate Majority PAC launched ads in May accusing her of wanting to take women’s rights “backwards,” but she anticipated the attacks with one of the most original ads of the 2014 election.
“Congressman Gary Peters and his buddies want you to think I’m waging a war on women. Really? Think about that for a moment,” says Ms. Land, who then takes a sip of coffee and checks her watch.
Patrice Douglas, who’s facing an Aug. 26 runoff for the Republican nomination in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, said women have bigger problems with regulations driven by policies like Obamacare than with the “war on women.”
“I think they’ve taken the message and they’ve twisted it,” said Ms. Douglas, the former Edmond mayor. “I believe the war on women is the fact that women start more businesses every year than men, and the war on small business is really a war on women.”
However, Democrats doubled down on the “war on women” meme after the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, which allowed the company’s religious owners to exclude four of the 20 birth control methods required under Obamacare.
But so far the polling hasn’t been in their favor. Last week’s Paragon Insights poll found 49 percent of likely voters surveyed supported letting business owners opt out of the contraception mandate if it conflicts with their religious beliefs, while 38 percent disagreed.
Ms. Shorey said one way to disarm the Democratic “war on women” claims is to elect more female conservatives.
“Our main focus is let’s get women elected to Congress,” said Ms. Shorey. “You can’t claim ‘war on women’ when you have outstanding women elected to the House and Senate who are conservative and Republican in nature. You just can’t do it. Especially when it’s angry males on the left saying this kind of thing.”