Here we go again with yet another Republican trying to pretend there's an ounce of daylight between what Paul Ryan believes and what Todd Akin believes when it comes to what exemptions there ought to be allowed on abortions. Matalin wants people to believe that there's no harm done by pulling taxpayer funding for women's reproductive services, even though anyone paying an ounce of attention knows that means you're telling poor women they're on their own for a service they can't afford to pay for.
Matalin also pulled out their tired talking point on how cheap and widely available birth control is, claiming that it only costs "$9 a month" and you can "get it anywhere." You can't just go "get it anywhere" and need to go see a doctor and pay for a visit, something Republicans would like to make women start paying out of pocket for again if they have health insurance, since they want to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And unless you're getting a discounted price from Planned Parenthood, which Republicans wish didn't exist, or you have health insurance with prescription drug coverage, I don't know of any place you can buy birth control for under $10 a month. And once again, she's touting something that Democrats made free with no co-pay under the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans have vowed to repeal. So again, if Republicans had their way, women would be paying for all of this out of their own pockets and spending a lot more than a few dollars a month.
The Republicans can pretend all day long that no one cares about any of this, but they're wrong. Women's reproductive issues are tied directly to their economic issues and you can't separate the two. If you can't control your health care costs and your own reproduction, you can't control your own economic situation. Whether you have a choice about having children and when makes all the difference in the world to women being able to go to school and to find a job. Matalin seems to think that somehow those things are not intertwined, or she at least hopes she can convince the CNN viewers to believe it.
As Cornell Belcher explained, the Republicans have got a huge gender gap right now and rhetoric like we heard out of Akin is not going to help them. Matalin knows that full well along with the rest of them, or they wouldn't be so quick to throw Akin under the bus for daring to tell the truth about what most of them actually believe.
Transcript below the fold.
COOPER: Mr. Cornell, last year, Paul Ryan was co-sponsoring legislation with Congressman Akin that critics say was limiting the definition of rape or redefining it by talking about forcible rape. Now in an interview, he's saying rape is rape, end of story, doesn't want to talk about it more.
What's going on here?
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: They're trying to find a position that's not that extreme. I mean, look, you only have 20 percent of the electoral that's -- that, you know, thinks abortion should be illegal even in case -- in all instances. So it's clearly not where mainstream America is. Now when you look at -- you know, if you think about that independent woman voter in middle America, you know, this is a conversation that really is going to recoil here.
I mean this is doing a lot of damage to the Republican brand. They had a large gender gap going into 2008, and as long as, you know, this sort of extreme measures continue to be front and center for the Republican Party and for this ticket, you're going to see that gender gap continue to stay strong and grow. And truth is, and Mary knows this better than most, you know, if either candidate runs away with the woman -- with the woman vote in this country, that candidate is probably going to win the election.
COOPER: Mary, I mean, Paul Ryan does seem to be certainly avoiding wanting to discuss what he meant by forcible rape last year. But in terms of positions, he and Akin are actually pretty much on the same page. Ryan hasn't used the same language that Akin used and he didn't use the junk science, but in terms of what he actually believes, he and Akin kind of -- are very similar, no?
MARY MATALIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No. What Paul Ryan believes, I presume, because we share a faith, he's a Roman Catholic. He believes in the sanctity of individual and each life he believes in the sanctity of the unborn and the legislation that he -- and he and 235 Republicans and a couple of dozen Democrats signed on was no federal funding for abortions, which has been around forever.
Paul Ryan is not known as a social crusader. Cornell is right, of course, that the woman's vote swings the elections, but he's wrong in presuming that women are so myopic that we think with our uterus. We're not as obsessed as liberals presumed to think we are with our reproductive equipment.
Women are obsessed with the economy, with the duration of unemployment and underemployment, with the deficit, with the debt, what that means for their kids. This is not going to be an election about abortion or about contraception or about gay marriages or about dogs on roofs, or any of the other distractions that the Obama team would want to foist on the Romney-Ryan team.
COOPER: Cornell, I was going to ask you whether or not what Ryan believes matters because he's not on the top of the ticket. But I also want you to be able to respond to Mary.
BELCHER: Only 20 percent of the electorate is actually with where Ryan and where Akin is on this thing. It is -- it is a viewpoint that's outside of the mainstream and it's absolutely going to hurt them because it's not about sort of the abortion issue, but it's about sort of who can relate to it.
And women look at this issue and they see, you know, Republicans having this -- this lengthy debate about reproductive rights and this -- this lengthy debate about birth control pills, which they -- which they had over the summer. And they had to scratch their head and think this is a party that just doesn't get it. They just don't understand me and my issues.
COOPER: Mary, I mean, do you really believe that this is not going to influence some people's vote? I know clearly the economy is issue number one, but when someone gets into that voting booth, particularly a woman, you think that this is not going to impact them?
MATALIN: I think it could if it wasn't soundly and roundly and universally condemned by every Republican from Mitt Romney to Rush Limbaugh.
Look, women, believe it or not, are used to men saying stupid things. And woe be to the male population if women attributed ignorance to all men based on the ignorance of one man. He was not the favorite candidate down there. He won in a three-way in a fluke. Everybody wants him to get off the ticket. The party is taking legal means to try to do that.
We're hoping that when he comes to his senses, we'll be able to prevail. My prediction is that they'll figure out a write-in ballot or some way. He does not speak for the party. It's the short and long.
COOPER: Right. But you're focusing on the language. His position, though, is very much in line with many Republicans' position, in particular Paul Ryan.
MATALIN: The Republican position is that we are -- we are pro- life. We support the sanctity of life, we support the protection of the unborn baby. The -- but -- what we' been doing for years now and this campaign is not going to fought over and slightly not going to change, that in the cases of the exceptions that we -- and no one -- even that legislation you're referring to that was a nothing (INAUDIBLE), that's been around forever, it doesn't ban anything.
It doesn't ban anything. So I don't -- I think there are a percentage of women, Cornell is right, who would -- and it's Cornell's job and the Obama campaign's job to extrapolate out from a narrow position on a social issue, a distraction for the rest of the campaign.
I'm just saying, women who care about birth control, I don't count myself in there, it's $9 a month. You can get it anywhere. And every poll, women care more about the assault on religious liberty than free contraception. And to the extent they care about something free, they'd rather -- the energy policy be addressed. They have cheaper energy than cheaper contraception. It's just a distraction, Anderson. Women are not that stupid.
COOPER: Mary Matalin, appreciate you being on. Cornell Belcher, as well. Thanks.