BETTENDORF, Iowa – One of Mitt Romney’s Republican allies on Wednesday tried to refocus attention on the impact of President Obama’s economic policies for women after the GOP presidential candidate’s message was driven seriously off track this week by a discussion of some Republicans' extreme views on abortion rights.
Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds told a crowd of about 1,000 people in eastern Iowa that “President Obama is yet again on the attack, trying to divert attention from his failed economic policies which have been especially devastating to women.” She ticked off statistics showing that since Obama took office, 780,000 more women are unemployed, 800,000 more are living in poverty, and the unemployment rate for women has risen from 7 percent to 8.1 percent.
“We deserve better from our president,” she said to applause.
The theme is not a new one for the Romney campaign. It was a regular part of the candidate’s stump speech in the spring after Democrats accused him of waging a “war on women” after his call to defund Planned Parenthood. “The real war on women has been waged by the Obama administration’s failure on the economy," Romney said at an April 10 rally in Wilmington, Del.
Romney adviser Kevin Madden said in an e-mail on Wednesday, “It’s a message to voters that has been delivered before and remains part of our larger argument about President Obama’s disappointing record on the economy.”
Republicans have been scrambling to distance themselves from the controversial claims of Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican candidate for Senate in Missouri, who apologized for suggesting that victims of “legitimate rape” cannot become pregnant but has refused calls by Romney and other top Republicans to exit the race against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. The uproar put a spotlight on vice presidential pick Paul Ryan’s past sponsorship of a bill barring federal funding for abortions, including those resulting from “forcible rape.”
The abortion controversies sharply shifted the focus from the economy to the social issues that are outside Romney’s political comfort zone.