Will the “War on Women” have legs in November?
Democrats should not hold back from the “war on women” in campaigning for the Nov. 6 election, Senator Jeanne Shaheen said, even if the economy will be on voters’ minds as they head to the polls.
“I’m old enough to remember the ’50s and before … contraceptives were widely available to people, what my mother and other women were dealing with,” the New Hampshire Democrat said on Tuesday at the Reuters Washington Summit. “I’m old enough to remember what it was like before Roe v. Wade, and I think access to reproductive health services for women is critical. And I don’t think women in this country are planning to go back.”
Polls generally show Democratic President Barack Obama with an advantage over Republican candidate Mitt Romney among women voters, but some recent surveys have shown Romney gaining ground. Democrats have sought to maintain their advantage by advertising what they call a Republican “war on women,” which casts the party as insensitive on issues such as equal pay for women, healthcare, protection against domestic abuse and access to contraception.
Shaheen said the issue would be on voters’ minds in November if they were reminded about it and that they should be, after Romney skewed to the right while battling for the nomination against socially conservative Republican opponents.
“It depends on how those issues are talked about and to what extent people are reminded about where the candidates stand, and the fact that … when [Romney] was asked about those issues during the presidential primary process, he was where the right wing of where the Republican party was,” she said.
It will help in New Hampshire, she said. The New England state is small, offering only four electoral votes, but it is a battleground that swings between Democrats and Republicans in presidential elections and could make the difference in what is expected to be a close presidential contest. New Hampshire voters are generally fiscally conservative but libertarian on social issues.
“It’s a libertarian state,” Shaheen said. “We don’t think government should tell us what to do on some of these issues.”
She said it had seemed like a relic from another era when issues like contraceptive coverage appeared in the news in 2012. “I certainly didn’t think that’s where most women in this country want to be,” she said.
Picture credit: Senator Jeanne Shaheen takes her seat at the Reuters Washington Summit. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst