Wednesday, October 24, 2012
The "War on Women," the Gender Gap, and the 2012 Election
Politico Arena Topic: Will Mitt be damaged by Mourdock's rape comment?
Governor Mitt Romney was already in a bind over his “binders full of women” comment after the second presidential debate at Hofstra University. The gap that he had seemingly been closing among women in this country started to widen after that slip-up. But the latest volley in the “war on women” could blow that gap wide open.
Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s comment on October 23 in a debate that rape is “something that God intended to happen” is as abhorrent and ridiculous a statement as one could utter and just the latest controversial comment on women that Republicans have offered up (hey Indiana Republicans—you sure you don’t want to bring back Senator Richard Lugar, a person as intelligent and respected as any person currently serving in Congress?).
If Mourdock’s comments were an isolated incident, it may not have had an impact. But starting with Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s comments this spring that Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, who testified in front of Congress on the topic of contraception, was a “slut” and “prostitute,” it’s been a pretty tough year for the GOP on women’s issues.
Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin’s comment in August that “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” has put the modern Republican Party’s views on abortion and women firmly under the media microscope and at the center of the 2012 presidential campaign. Akin has since compared his female opponent, Senator Claire McCaskill, to a dog at a recent fundraiser, and subsequently news has broken that he had been arrested several times in the past at the scene of abortion protests.
And Akin and Mourdock are not isolated cases. U.S. Representative Joe Walsh, a freshman from Illinois running for reelection in a very tight race, said in a recent debate that he was against all abortions without exception, even when the mother’s life was at stake because “with modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance….There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing.”
So how does Governor Romney repair the damage? After all, Governor Romney enthusiastically endorsed Mourdock in his senate bid. I don’t think he can at this point. His only hope is that his advantage among men is bigger than his gap among women, a prospect that is highly unlikely.
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