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Opinion: Why GOP could prompt women to vote for Obama
Maria Cardona says Repubilcans should cease their assault -- "whether real or perceived doesn’t really matter" --on women.
March 7th, 2012
02:48 PM ET

Opinion: Why GOP could prompt women to vote for Obama

Editor's note: Maria Cardona is a Democratic strategist, a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and former communications director for the Democratic National Committee.

By Maria Cardona, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - Much has been written about the GOP’s huge hole with Latino voters and how that will prevent them from reaching the White House.  In fact, a new poll of just Latino voters has no Republican presidential candidate polling above 14% against President Obama.  Dios mio!  As if that weren’t enough, the GOP is now busy with their shovels digging themselves another hole, this time with another incredibly important demographic – women.

We are talking about 53% of the electorate and an electorate made up of many independents who look at issues and candidates, not necessarily party identification.  President Obama won women in 2008, 56% to McCain’s 42%, a big reason he is in the White House today.  But even as recently as late last year, independent women were not supporting President Obama, a fact that was of great concern to the White House and a reason they kept focusing like a laser on economic issues and fixing policies they could influence like student loans, mortgage relief, and yes, implementing the Affordable Care Act regulation ensuring all women could have equal access to life saving health care services without paying out of pocket expenses.

For that, the Administration found itself in a maelstrom for several days.  The Catholic Church came down hard on the White House for believing their religious freedoms were being infringed upon by mandating they provide birth control to women who work at any of their affiliated facilities like universities or hospitals.  But because the Administration was focused on doing what is right, and not what is politically expedient, they went back to the drawing board and put forth a compromise that would not violate anyone’s religious freedoms while still ensuring all women had access to critical health care services.

Instead of moving on and focusing on the economic issues most Americans are deeply concerned with, Republicans saw an opening they might exploit to – in their minds – further damage the President.  But what they created for themselves was instead a sink hole where they continue to sink deeper and deeper into an abyss of overreach and extremism that may excite and placate their base of very conservative voters, but is doing extreme damage among independent women who care deeply about their access to health services – including contraceptives which 99% American women have used at some point in their lives.

These smart, independent (and many Democratic and Republican) women do not want the government all up in their privates, making decisions that should be up to them and their doctors.  For example, the Senate’s Republican (now defeated) Blunt-Rubio amendment would have allowed any employer, regardless of religious affiliation to eliminate coverage of any service, not just contraceptives, if they found it to be in any way morally objectionable.

Unfortunately, the Republican overreach is not confined to Washington.  As a matter of fact, it is even worse in the states where there have been strong pushes by extremists to approve “personhood” amendments to continue to chip away at Roe v. Wade. In Virginia, there was a particularly egregious piece of legislation that would mandate any woman seeking an abortion to undergo ultrasound exams. In an earlier version, there was an even worse provision that would have mandated invasive vaginal ultrasounds.  The bill is now awaiting Governor McConnell’s signature.

All of this sandwiched in between GOP candidate Rick Santorum declaring he didn’t think women were fit to serve in combat roles in our military because they were too emotional, and Rush Limbaugh viciously attacking Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University laws school student, calling her a slut and a prostitute.  What did she do to deserve his vitriol?  She had the audacity to stand up for herself and other women by testifying at a Democratic hearing on access to birth control, only after she was denied the opportunity to testify at a Republican-led hearing with a women-free panel focused on the same issue.

Why the Republicans think this is a winning strategy is beyond comprehension.  The GOP cannot win the White House without support from independent women and they are fleeing the GOP in droves.  These women care about the economy, jobs, and a better future for their children and families.  The Republican Party is in fact making it much easier for the White House to achieve what they had embarked upon anyway – their goal of bringing “home” independent women with critical policy changes focused on the economy the President can implement, and key outreach measures we have seen in the past several days and weeks that help communicate that critical message:

–        The President’s singular focus on job-creation and the “Made in America” initiative

–        Underscoring White House efforts to save the auto industry which is inextricably linked to the well-being of the middle class and working class in Michigan and other key Rust-belt states

–        Making it easier to pay back student loans

–        Ensuring homeowners under water with their mortgages are given relief

–        Giving equal access to preventative health care services for all women

–        The President’s commencement speech to Barnard College

–        Michelle Obama’s focus on military families, children’s healthy eating, and her overall image as a strong woman and dedicated mother

If the Republicans are serious about being competitive enough to have a chance to win the White House, they would cease this assault – whether real or perceived doesn’t really matter – on women’s rights and stop making their party look like they want to take women back to the 19th century.  They would do well to stay away from Pandora.  And especially her box.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Maria Cardona.

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Chantal Neiswander

    For some women, breast health tops the list of women's health concerns. What's the best way to do a breast self-exam? What should you do if you find a breast lump? What's the best way to treat breast pain? ,:*,

    Our web blog
    http://www.healthmedicinedigest.co

    August 12, 2013 at 4:25 am | Report abuse |
  2. Tree

    We need to have completely open abortion laws.
    Early, Late Term, and still under 3 years should all be legalized.

    Let the Libertines and Feminists (most American women) kill off all their children and in a few generations there won't be any left.

    Problem solved 😛

    p.s. Be sure to make divorce laws so horrible against men that they won't dare agree to marriage.

    March 13, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. fedupwu

    If women want to keep control over their bodies they really need to either not vote republican or vote for President Obama. You bet believe if the republicans start with women's health issues it will not stop there, what will be next no education higher than high school? You can't vote unless you are married and your have your husband's consent? If you give government an inch they will certainly take a mile. Better think about this long and hard ladies. Glad I'm older and can't bear children, but I am concerned about my daughter and her future and the way republicans are chipping away women's rights it doesn't look good for the future of women.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Let's make women on welfare have more babies

    Men will never stop getting women pregnant. Guys... keep it in your pants, would ya? Raise your hand if you want your girl friends to get pregnant. By the way guys... pay your child support for the children you've created so your old girl friends can get off food stamps and medicaid.

    March 9, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  5. Birth Control is not Tax Issue... That's between an Insurance Company and an Employer

    Did you know that the unwed birth rate has dropped since 2008 and so has abortions? Do you realize that my birth control is covered by insurance through my employer, and hello... Tax Payers are not paying for it. Do tax payers pay for your anti-biotics? LOL... Where did that idiotic rhetoric come from any how? Faux News? Birth Control prevents abortion, child poverty, children on food stamps and medicaid. Hello! And it's cheaper for an insurance company to spend $300.00 a year on a women's birth control than to pay a doctor to remove ovarian cysts and pay for pregnancies and deliveries.

    March 9, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  6. Birth Control Prevents Abortion and is cheaper for Insurance companies

    Flipity Flop. Flipity Flop goes the GOP... It's one thing to change your mind when new data presents itself or you truly have a change of heart... But these circus clowns will do a 180 on birth control when they figure out they have alienated women voters. By the way, many women use contraceptives for health reasons like ovarian cysts, etc. Just stay out of my bedroom, GOP!

    March 9, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
  7. Donna

    Don't ask me to vote for him!!! I voted smart in 2008 & I will still be voting smart in 2012!!!!

    NOBAMA 2012!!!

    March 8, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • OffTheGrid99

      Apparently you haven't been listening. And if you think voting for McCain in '08 was smart, you need your head examined. I did not vote for Obama, but I did not vote for the warmonger and Caribou Barbie either. And this time around, not one candidate has done anything but made an a** of himself on women's issues, economic issues and international issues. Smart people will vote with their minds, and not someone else's. Sincerely, a registered Republican for 30 years.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dontbow

    keep government out of our healthcare! that is not a war on women, but i guess the liberal idiots will turn it into that like they do with the race card and obama.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      INSURANCE RATE WILL GO UP FOR ALL IF BIRTH CONTROL PILLS ARE INCLUDED ....MY POINT IS THAT SENIORS–MEN-SHOULD NOT BE PAYING HIGHER INSURANCE PREMIUMS SO WOMEN WHO ARE IRRESPONSIBLE AND GET PREGNANT CAN HAVE BIRTH CONTROL PILLS...THE SAME FOR MEN, WANT VIAGRA ??PAY FOR IT OUT OF YOUR POCKETS.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JOSE0311USMC

    SHOULD SENIOR CITIZENS BE FORCED TO PAY HIGHER INSURANCE RATES SO YOUNG IRRESPONSIBLE HIGH SCHOOL WOMEN COLLEGE WOMEN CAN GO OUT PARTYING AND GETTING PREGNANT ?? YOU KNOW IS NOT FAIR...I AGREE WITH GOP AND I'M A DEMOCRAT..

    March 8, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greensapm

      I can answer that. One hospital visit by a senior citizen costs $50K. That's a whole life time of contraception. Yeah, I guess old people are not getting the fair deal!

      March 8, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
      • JOSE0311USMC

        SENIORS WORKED ALL THEIR LIVES, THEY ALSO HAVE INSURANCE..

        March 8, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian Whittle

      policies with family planning are cheaper wan without so it costs nothing more, your point is moot

      March 8, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JOSE0311USMC

    I'M A DEMOCRAT-I VOTED FOR OBAMA-I'M A HISPANIC GUY... I AGREE WITH GOP ON WOMEN BIRTH CONTROL PILLS...YOU GO OUT AND GET PREGNANT ? YOU PAY FOR YOUR PILLS..WHY SHOULD THE REST OF US WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE BE ASK TO PAY IN HIGHER INSURANCE PREMIUMS ?? SHOULD OLD WOMEN AND MEN BE FORCE TO PAY HIGHER INSURANCE PREMIUMS , SO YOUNG WOMEN IN HIGH 0-COLLEGE CAN GO AND GET PREGNANT ?? IS IT FAIR ?? NO.. I AGREE WITH GOP-BILL O' REILLY..

    March 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      GET PREGNANT, YOU PAY FOR IT....IS FAIR..GOP ARE 100% CORRECT.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • acr

      I am a female and do not know When women strarted having an issue with getting birth control thats what I want to know ,anyone that wants it can get it or hello dont have sex when you cant afford to protect yourself, to me the issue is why should people pay for your contraception, it's a personal responsiblity no one is preventing anyone from getting this ,start taking your own responsibilty for your personal wants, ,problem is THERE ARE TO MANY THAT WANT EVERYTHING FOR FREE or included ,its not a medical neccessity for every women, and insurance has covered this

      April 5, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. bl4ck0utsUn

    Try hearing how mothers and daughters were killed by back alley abortionists in the early 1900's. In a time when women carry the brunt of child rearing while men skate on child support payments, usually going to the state, because alone the woman can't raise her children, aford childcare and work. You bible thumpers that are so against abortion, and fedral aide, be happy young women are responsible enough to use birth control. Those hormones prevent women from producing an egg capable of becoming an unwanted pregnancy!

    March 8, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sielingfan

    so was this the thinly-veiled agenda? Was this the worst-kept secret of 2012? The reasoning behind the "WAR ON WIMMIN" and the ridiculous overblown coverage of the reaction to Limbaugh? Is this the payoff the left has been expecting for all their hard work?

    I am has dissappoint.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  13. StanCalif

    Santorum has made Catholicism the foundation of his campaign. He is repulsed by JFK's comments about church and state! George W. brought us the huge bureaucracy of "Homeland Security", will Santorum create a new cabinet level bureaucracy of "Homeland religion"? Will Romney give us a cabinet level bureaucracy of polygamy?
    Politicians cannot be trusted at all!

    March 8, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  14. StanCalif

    What is all this fuss about? Did anyone "prevent" North Korea from developing nuclear weapons? So what if Iran wants a bomb. What will they do with it? Launch one and the whole country will be eliminated! North Korea "uses" their nuclear program to blackmail the west for food and fuel. They seem to be very successful! As soon as the west fills their bellies and refuels their navy and army, they again become aggressive!
    What about Pakistan? Who is calling for Pakistan to give up their nukes? Who is calling for Israel to give up their "made in the USA" nukes? This whole Iran problem is completely ignorant!

    March 8, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  15. Navin Johnson

    The GOP are clearly Bible thumpers. The Bible is extremely anti-woman. I mean, Eve alone is to blame for all out sin, right? Of course they will lose the female vote.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:43 am | Report abuse |
    • sielingfan

      I.... I mean I get when someone hasn't read the whole bible, but you clearly haven't even read the first five PAGES if that's what you think. Ignorance on parade.....

      March 8, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      IF YOU ARE IRRESPONSIBLE AND GO OUT PARTYING AND GET PREGNANT ?? YOU SHOULD PAY FOR THE ABORTION PILLS...WHY SHOULD SENIOR CITIZENS BE FORCED TO PAY HIGHER INSURANCE PREMIUMS SO IRRESPONSIBLE WOMEN GO OUT PARTYING AND GETTING PREGNANT .....YOUR CALL, YOU GET PREGNANT ? YOU PAY. GOP IS 100 % CORRECT.. I'M A DEMOCRAT-A HISPANIC–AND I DO NOT GO TO CHURCH.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Kerry

    I love that the GOP is putting it out there for everyone to see. It's import for the American public to know what they are voting for. We don't want the wrong person winning because the politicians were not forthcoming.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  17. bl4ck0utsUn

    Amen! Leave my box out of it!!

    March 7, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |