Top surrogates for President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney feuded on pro-life and abortion issues in an interview this weekend on ABC’s weekend political talk show hosted by George Stephanopoulos.
During the interview, Romney’s senior campaign adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, said Romney would govern as a pro-life president and said Obama and his campaign’s rhetoric of a so-called “War on Women” is inaccurate.
“Mitt Romney is pro-life,” he said. “He’ll govern as a pro-life president, but you’re going to see the Democrats use all sorts of shiny objects to distract people’s attention from the Obama performance on the economy. This is not a social issue election.”
Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter is doing exactly what Fehrnstorm suggested the Obama campaign would keep doing — distracting voters away from Obama’s record and using made-up attacks on Romney.
“If it’s not a social issue election then why did Mitt Romney just spend the last year campaigning on social issues?” she wondered. “These are his positions that he’s taken. Whether it’s giving bosses control over whether female employees can get contraception, being for the so-called personhood amendment that would ban all forms of abortion or telling the American people that he’ll get back to them on whether he supports Lilly Ledbetter — which is an economic issue and it should be a no-brainer, but the governor couldn’t even bring himself to be for that.”
“I think that getting rid of Planned Parenthood or a number of other social issues that the governor injected into the campaign — I think that women don’t like that intrusion,” she added. “What Mitt Romney is really saying that he’s going to do is he’s going to use government to intrude into their lives. And I think that they resent that.”
Polling data shows the Obama attack on Romney for his supposed position against women isn’t working.
A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll shows a sharp increase in his standing with women has boosted Mitt Romney to his highest favorability rating of the presidential campaign while Obama’s favorability has slipped. According to an ABC News report on the poll:
Obama still beats Romney in favorable ratings overall, by an 11-point margin, 52 vs. 41 percent. But that’s down from 21 points last month, giving Romney the better trajectory. And both get only even divisions among registered voters, marking the closeness of the race between them.
All Romney’s gains have come among women – up by 13 percentage points in personal popularity from last month, while Obama’s lost 7 points among women. (Views among men have been more stable.) Obama’s rating among women, 51 percent favorable, still beats Romney’s 40 percent – but again that margin is far smaller than what it was six weeks ago.
An ABC/Post poll last week found improvement for Romney in vote preferences among married women. This survey finds that his gains in personal favorability, instead, come predominantly among unmarried women, who saw him uncommonly negatively earlier this spring.
In addition to women, Romney’s gained 9 points among moderates from a month ago (albeit just to 39 percent favorable, vs. Obama’s 58 percent in this group) and 9 points among Republicans (to 78 percent favorable).
In addition to losing ground among women, Obama’s popularity has dropped by a slight 8 points, to 45 percent, among independents, classically the swing voters in presidential elections. Fifty-two percent of independents see him unfavorably, putting him numerically underwater in this group for the first time since December. Romney is at 40-46 percent favorable-unfavorable among independents, also numerically in negative territory.
The poll, conducted by Langer Research Associates, shows Obama’s popularity is the same as George H.W. Bush’s in June 1992, the year Bush lost re-election over the same weakened economy Obama faces now.
Planned Parenthood is apparently unconcerned that its overblown rhetoric attacking Romney is clearly failing as it endorsed Obama and announced it is putting $1.4 million into attack ads trashing Romney as anti-woman. The ads will slam Romney for his supposedly “harmful positions on women’s health” because he favors not forcing religious groups to pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs for their employees.
The ad buy targets Romney’s previous comments saying he would “get rid” of federal taxpayer funding for the abortion business and Planned Parenthood indicated the ad buy would target places like West Palm Beach, Florida; Des Moines, Iowa; and voters in northern Virginia.
Romney called for de-funding Planned Parenthood earlier this year.
“I also feel that the government should cut off funding to Planned Parenthood,”said. “Look, the idea that we’re subsidizing an institution that provides abortion, in my view, is wrong. Planned Parenthood oughta stand on its own feet and should not get government subsidy.”
Romney also touted his pro-life credentials, saying, “I am a pro-life individual, I was a pro-life governor, I served as a pro-life governor, I’m a pro-life candidate. I simply do not want to participate in anything that takes the life of an unborn child.”
Romney has called for de-funding Planned Parenthood previously.
In November, Romney had an opinion column in USA Today in which he advocated numerous ways to balance the federal budget, one of which involves eliminating funding to Planned Parenthood.
Romney proposes repealing Obamacare — which pro-life groups virtually unanimously opposed because of concerns related to taxpayer funding of abortions, rationing issues, and lack of conscience protections for pro-life medical workers. He says that will save $95 billion in 2016.
The fourth item on Romney’s list is one that will delight the pro-life voters he needs to secure the GOP nomination to face Obama: “Eliminate Title X family planning programs benefiting abortion groups like Planned Parenthood.”
Romney previously pledged to de-fund the Planned Parenthood abortion business in October during his speech before the Values Voter Summit.
“Our values must also encompass the life of an unborn child,” Romney told the thousands of pro-life advocates gathered for the Family Research Council event. “There are, of course, strong convictions on both sides of this issue. Yet it speaks well of our country that almost all Americans recognize that abortion is a problem.”
“The law may call it a right, but no one ever called it a good. And in the quiet of conscience, people of both political parties know that more than a million abortions a year can’t be squared with the good heart of America,” Romney said.
The former governor pivoted from a philosophical position to talking about his political views and what he would do if elected president.
“I support the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions,” Romney said, “As president, I’ll end federal funding for abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood. I’ll protect a health care worker’s right to follow their conscience in their work.”
“I will nominate judges who know the difference between personal opinion and law. It is long past time for the Supreme Court to return the issue of abortion back to the states by overturning Roe v. Wade,” he added.