A day after essentially clinching the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney zeroed in on his next critical task: convincing female voters he is a better choice than President Obama.
At Alpha Graphics, a woman-owned business in Hartford, Conn., Romney stood with a half-dozen female small-business owners and railed against the Obama administration’s record on women’s employment.
“When he says there is a war on women, let’s bring him back to the fact that it is the real war on women that has been waged by his economic policies,” he said. “Let’s hammer day in and day out what has happened under his policies.”
Romney reiterated his claim that 92.3% of jobs lost since Obama took office were held by women.
The campaign sent e-mails from prominent female surrogates throughout the day to reiterate the message that Obama has been bad for women.
Several polls have shown Romney trailing Obama by wide margins among female voters. According to a recent USA TODAY Swing State Poll, more than six in 10 women under 50 support Obama.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday showed Obama leading Romney 57%-38% among woman nationally.
Penny Nance, the chief executive officer for Concerned Women for America, said Republicans would be “foolish” not to start targeting women. “Every time you pull your minivan up to the pump, you’re mad,” she said.
Nance, who supported former senator Rick Santorum— who dropped out of the race Tuesday, essentially guaranteeing Romney’s nomination — noted that Romney has work to do to appeal to conservative women, many of whom preferred Santorum.
During a conference call with reporters, Romney policy director Lanhee Chen was asked by a reporter whether the former Massachusetts governor supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, legislation that allows workers to sue over gender pay disparity. “We’ll get back to you on that,” Chen answered.
Campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul later clarified, saying “Of course, Mitt Romney supports pay equity for women. The real question is whether President Obama supports jobs for women.”
The Obama campaign pounced, sending out a statement from Ledbetter, who said she was “shocked and disappointed” about the comments. The 2009 law bearing her name was passed by Congress to overturn a court ruling denying her pay discrimination claim.
“Anyone who wants to be president of the United States shouldn’t have to think about whether they support pursuing every possible avenue to ensuring women get the same pay for the same work as men,” she said in the statement.
The Romney campaign spent part of the day defending its claim that women have suffered 92.3% of jobs losses under Obama. The statement, which was reiterated by Romney several times during his Hartford speech, was rejected as “mostly false” by the fact-checking website PolitiFact.
In an April 6 post, PolitiFact wrote that even though the figure, circulated by Saul last week, came from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the way the numbers were used was “quite misleading.”
Romney’s campaign sent a letter to PolitiFact asking for a retraction.
“Putting aside the obvious problems with rating an accurate statement mostly false, your analysis in this instance was so inadequate that the piece ended up being little more than Obama for America spin,” Chen wrote. “I hope you will consider the problems identified below, retract the piece, and replace it with one confirming the accuracy of what Ms. Saul said.”