In Last-Ditch Attempt to Woo Women Voters, Romney Promises Love and Cheap Gas
FAIRFAX, VA. -- At Mitt Romney’s final rally in the must-win battleground of Virginia, the signs told the story. “Moms for Mitt,” they read, printed in the kind of quaint script you might see on a cake-mix package from the 1950s. And in the commonwealth, where, as elsewhere, a gender gap yawns between the supporters of Romney and President Barack Obama, the Republican presidential nominee sought to present himself as the kind of husband, father and president whose dinner any woman would yearn to hurry home to prepare.
The message Romney sought to impart as he stood before an enthusiastic crowd of some 8,000 supporters was targeted not so much at the women in attendance at the raucous rally at George Mason University’s Patriot Center, but those who would see footage from the event on their local news that evening, just as they were checking their calendars to see when they could fit in a visit to the polls, maybe on a lunch hour, or in between errands.
Introducing the presidential hopeful, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, once considered a top prospect for the ticket's number-two spot, described Romney: "He's an incredible person of faith; he believes in God. He loves his wife of over four decades. He has five kids, 18 grandkids."
Are you listening, women? The man loves his wife.
Before Romney took the podium with wife Ann at his side, the audience was treated to a video about the Mitt-Ann love story that was the sort of thing a man might think was standard fare for Lifetime Television, the women’s network that also sponsors a well-regarded quadrennial poll (PDF) of women’s attitudes toward issues, politics and politicians. (The video was first shown at the Republican National Convention in August.)
“Virginia,” said Ann Romney, “are we going to be neighbors soon?” A roar went up from the crowd. The timbre of Mrs. Romney’s voice offered stark contrast to those of the four politicians who spoke before her; all are men. (They included Gov. Bob McDonnell, Senate candidate George Allen, and congressional candidates Chris Perkins and Patrick Murray.)
It’s the economy, sweetie
Romney had clearly taken note of polling that shows the economy and jobs to be the top issue (PDF) for women of all political stripes, and the fact that, for all the talk of the Republican war on women, polling finds little gap between the opinions of women and men on such matters as abortion and insurance coverage for contraception.
And Romney’s play to women seemed predicated on the widely-held notion ( not quite true) that women don’t like partisan politics, and his hope to bring women who identify as independents into his column. So he painted Obama as a divisive figure who was bad for the economy, and himself as a uniter and job-creator. He used the world "independent" four times in his remarks.
Speaking of Obama, Romney said: “He promised to be... a post-partisan president...and instead he has blamed and attacked and divided...He said he was going to focus on job creation; instead he focused on Obamacare that killed jobs.”
He went on: "If you look at the big debates that have gone on in this country, not as a Republican or a Democrat, but as an independent thinker, as an American, and you watch what's happened to this country over the last four years with an independent voice, you'd hope that President Obama would live up to his promise to bring people together, to solve big problems. He hasn't; I will."
Romney went on to depict the president as a promise-breaker and himself as a promise-keeper, doing so by reiterating the lie -- just one among oh, so many that have sprung from his lips in this campaign -- that Obama had once promised to bring unemployment down to 5.2 percent in his first term. That Obama never did has become immaterial to Romney supporters; of the five women I interviewed at the rally, most volunteered Romney’s honesty as one of his most sterling qualities.
So it stood to reason that Romney would go on to repeat his lie about Obama “raid[ing]” Medicare by $716 billion. (See AlterNet’s Joshua Holland debunk that one, here.)
The candidate uttered not a word about birth control, abortion, or the “religious freedom” he has said in past appearances was under siege by the Obama administration.