DENVER—The Obama campaign is intensifying its “war on women” strategy in Colorado, hoping to break open a tight race in a must-win state by energizing women voters on the issues of birth control and abortion.
President Obama kicks off a two-day Colorado campaign swing Wednesday with a rally at the Auraria Campus in Denver. Scheduled to introduce him is Sandra Fluke, the now-graduated Georgetown University law student who gained national attention after talk-radio commentator Rush Limbaugh mockingly called her a “slut” over her support for “free” government mandated contraception.
The Colorado trip comes days after the Obama camp rolled out two 30-second television ads in the Denver market accusing presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney of insensitivity to women’s health issues.
“I’ve never felt this way before, but it’s a scary time to be a woman,” says a woman named Jenni in the ad called “Women’s Choices.” “Mitt Romney is just so out of touch.”
Republicans fired back by accusing the Obama campaign of trying to change the subject from the struggling economy. The Romney campaign called the effort “a false ad in an attempt to distract from the effects of the president’s failed policies.”
“The president is clearly trying to talk about anything but his record to Colorado voters, but Colorado voters are too smart to fall for that,” said Colorado Republican Party executive director Chuck Poplstein.
Even so, Democrats clearly view the “war on women” as a winning tactic, given its previous success in the 2010 Colorado Senate race. In an otherwise strong Republican year, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet narrowly won reelection after hammering Republican Ken Buck for his pro-life position on abortion, a strategy that analysts say unnerved suburban Republican and unaffiliated women.
“That’s the playbook Democrats are using,” said Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli. “Obama is reinforcing the ‘war against women.’”
What has changed since then is the rise of Republican women’s groups aimed at countering the impression that women are focused primarily on paying for birth control and obtaining abortions. One Denver-based organization, the Colorado Women’s Alliance, released Tuesday the results of two focus-group studies showing that jobs and the economy rank as the chief concerns of Republican and unaffiliated women voters.
More information on the studies, conducted by Magellan Strategies, can be found here.
“This administration’s obsession with birth control is quite frankly offensive to women everywhere. It reinforces the misconception that women’s primary purpose is sexual or childrearing,” said Debbie Brown, executive director of the Colorado Women’s Alliance, in a statement. “Every day, women across Colorado of all ages are working hard at their jobs and in their homes. President Obama’s obsession with this is puzzling to these women who are grappling with issues of unemployment, rising energy costs, failing school systems, and small business roadblocks.”
Polls released Tuesday show Obama and Romney remain deadlocked in Colorado. A Rasmussen Reports polls released Tuesday showed the candidates tied at 47%, while a Public Policy Polling survey showed Obama ahead by 49% to 43%.
At the same time, the Gallup daily tracking poll from January through June shows only 43% of Colorado voters view Obama favorably, giving him one of his lowest approval ratings in a swing state. And a CBS poll released this morning shows Romney leading Mr. Obama in Colorado by a five point margin.
“Definitely this state is in play,” said Ciruli. “Obama’s going to spend two days here, and his strategy is to target unaffiliated women who are pro-choice and who he thinks he has a chance of wooing.”