Forget job growth or the deficit. A pair of TV ads released Tuesday suggests the 2014 elections will dive headfirst into a fierce debate over women’s issues.
The new on-air missives came from a pair of marquee Senate campaigns: Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado and Republican Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land of Michigan, both of whom are in competitive races in battleground states. And because each is the first TV ad from either campaign, they will set the tone for the races’ next six months.
In Udall’s case, the incumbent took aim at Rep. Cory Gardner’s prior support of so-called personhood legislation. The hard-hitting ad accuses the GOP congressman of opposing abortion rights in cases of rape and incest and of “championing an eight-year crusade to outlaw common forms of birth control.”
“It comes down to respect,” a female narrator says in the ad. “For women, and our lives.”
The ad buy, according to the campaign, is worth $500,000 spread over two weeks.
It’s not surprising that Udall is taking aim at Gardner’s position on abortion rights and contraception access: His campaign telegraphed those attacks from the minute the Republican unexpectedly entered the race in February. Democrats successfully used a social-issue playbook in the last competitive Senate race in cosmopolitan Colorado, when Michael Bennet (now chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) won a narrow victory in 2010, and Gardner himself renounced his support of personhood legislation shortly after entering his race.
It might surprise, however, that the campaign is going negative in April, an indication of the danger Democrats believe the well-funded Gardner poses.
Negative ads like Udall’s are part of a Democratic political attack against Republicans known as the “War on Women,” a charge the party leveled with success in the 2012 elections. And they explain why Land’s campaign ran its own ad in Michigan, a spot designed to rebut charges that she’s insensitive to women’s issues.
“Congressman Gary Peters and his buddies want you to believe I’m waging a war on women,” Land says, speaking into the camera. “Really? Think about that for a moment.”
Land then stops talking as elevator music plays in the background, as she drinks from a coffee mug and checks her watch.
“I’m Terri Lynn Land and I approve this message because, as a woman, I might know a little bit more about women than Gary Peters,” she said.
The ad is one of the most visible pushbacks yet from Republicans, who believe they were hurt badly two years ago in part because the party mustered only a muted counterargument to Democratic attacks geared toward female voters. (They also had to deal with fallout from nominee Todd Akin’s controversial “legitimate rape” comments on abortion in the 2012 Missouri Senate race, and Indiana Senate nominee Richard Mourdock’s opposition to abortion for rape victims.) And it comes as Democrats promise to revive the attacks this year, in particular focusing on Republicans who have supported Personhood legislation in the past.
Democrats have said they need to dwell on such issues in part to drive up turnout among single women, a key constituency that votes in disproportionately fewer numbers during midterm elections.
Not all early TV ads from Senate candidates mention women’s issues: In many of the red states in play this year, most of the discussion has focused on more finically themed issues like Obamacare, Social Security, and Medicare. But at least in a pair of blue states, 2014 is picking up right where 2012 left off. Welcome to the War Over Women.
What We're Following See More »
President Obama became a surprise topic of contention toward the end of the Democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton reminded viewers that Sanders had challenged the progressive bona fides of President Obama in 2011 and suggested that someone might challenge him from the left. “The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans, I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama,” she said. “Madame Secretary, that is a low blow,” replied Sanders, before getting in another dig during his closing statement: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”
It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”
It’s been said in just about every news story since New Hampshire: the primaries are headed to states where Hillary Clinton will do well among minority voters. Leaving nothing to chance, she underscored that point in her opening statement in the Milwaukee debate tonight, saying more needs to be done to help “African Americans who face discrimination in the job market” and immigrant families. She also made an explicit reference to “equal pay for women’s work.” Those boxes she’s checking are no coincidence: if she wins women, blacks and Hispanics, she wins the nomination.
Under pressure from a judge, the State Department will release about 550 of Hillary Clinton’s emails—“roughly 14 percent of the 3,700 remaining Clinton emails—on Saturday, in the middle of the Presidents Day holiday weekend.” All of the emails were supposed to have been released last month. Related: State subpoenaed the Clinton Foundation last year, which brings the total number of current Clinton investigations to four, says the Daily Caller.