By Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times –
PASADENA, Calif. — The Republican presidential candidates’ focus on issues such as contraception, abortion and health care will push female voters into President Barack Obama’s corner and provide a crucial boost in getting him re-elected, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz told phone bank volunteers Monday.
“I know Barack Obama will be returned to the White House … carried on the shoulders of American women because that’s how he got there in the first place, with a 13-point gender gap in 2008,” she told about 50 cheering women gathered at a Pasadena seafood restaurant. “Women in this country voted for Barack Obama in 2008 because we know that as mothers, as sisters, as daughters, as wives, what’s at stake.”
Wasserman Schultz’s remarks came as a poll showed that Obama had opened up a lead over GOP front-runner Mitt Romney nationally and among voters in a dozen swing states, driven by the female vote.
The USA Today/Gallup poll found Obama led Romney 51 percent to 42 percent in those battleground states, and that while the president was virtually tied with Romney among male voters, he led by 18 points among women.
In an interview, Wasserman Schultz said this was driven by the Republicans’ focus on social issues, such as whether health insurance should have to cover contraception.
“I think women in America have seen just how out of step and out of touch the Republicans are — any of them, Romney, (Rick) Santorum, the whole field — with the values and priorities of women,” she said. “The Republicans … are so busy embracing extremism and trying to out-right-wing each other, they have really left women feeling bereft.”
The volunteers were especially vocal when Wasserman Schultz and others brought up radio host Rush Limbaugh calling a Georgetown University law student a “slut” after she testified at Congress about the importance of insurers covering contraception.
“If doing your civic duty and testifying about an important woman’s issue is what results in that, than I guess we should all join the club of sluts and prostitutes,” said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., and a national co-chairwoman of Obama’s re-election campaign.
In their phone calls, the volunteers focused on Obama’s health care law, which is before the Supreme Court. Wasserman Schultz said that as a breast-cancer survivor, the provision requiring insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions had special resonance. On Dec. 7, 2007, the day of her diagnosis, the Florida congresswoman said she became “one job loss away from being uninsurable.”
If Republicans are successful in November, she said they would repeal the law, putting 45 percent of Americans with a pre-existing condition at risk and raising costs for women.