Following a recent poll that showed President Barack Obama with a 2-1 lead among female voters in swing states, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Sunday said that his campaign would "take our message to the women of America."
A USA Today/Gallup survey of 12 of the top battleground states found that Romney had lost 14 points among women in recent months after he and many other Republicans objected to mandating that contraception be covered by the health insurance offered by religious institutions. Six in 10 voters favored Obama, while only 30 percent supported Romney.
At an event in Middleton, Wisconsin on Sunday, a man asked the candidate what he would do to counter "false issues" the Democrats are campaigning on like "making contraception an issue."
"They suggest Republicans are having a war on women," the man said. "And are also suggesting a war on immigrants. How will you persuade these important constituencies of women, Hispanics, etc. that issues like more jobs and less debt and smaller government are women's issues, Hispanics' issues, all Americans' issues?"
"This president can't run on his record," Romney explained. "So, he's going to try to divert to some other kind of attack and try and have people disqualify our nominee -- which will probably be me -- instead of talking about where we've been and where we're going as a nation."
"And I wish Ann were here, my wife were here, for a lot of reasons, I wish she were here. But I wish she were here to answer that question in particular. She says that she’s going across the country and talking with women, and what they’re talking about is the debt that we’re leaving the next generation and the failure of this economy to put people back to work," he continued. "And the, my goodness, what the president has done, with regards to this issue on health care, he came in and said, look, under Obamacare, we’re going to tell the Catholic church that it has to violate its religious conscience and provide insurance that gives free contraceptives, free sterilization and free morning-after pill to their employees. ... And if I am the president of the United States, I will protect our first right, the right of religious freedom."
The candidate added: "We have work, we have work to do, to make sure we take our message to the women of America, so they understand how we’re going to get good jobs and we’re going to have a bright economic future for them and for their kids. And make sure that these distortions that the Democrats throw in are clarified and the truth is heard."
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told USA Today that Romney had created "severe problems" for himself by promising to end funding for Planned Parenthood and by supporting the Blunt amendment, which would have allowed any employer -- not just religious institutions -- to ban contraception coverage on moral grounds.
"Romney's run to the right may be winning him Tea Party votes," Messina said. "American women can't trust Romney to stand up for them."
"It would be hard for them to win if you have this kind of gender gap."