Political Notebook

Obama warns against lumping women into single voting bloc

WASHINGTON - President Obama yesterday showered attention on helping women, yet warned in the same motion that they should not be reduced to a uniform political bloc, declaring they are not an interest group and “shouldn’t be treated that way.’’

“When we talk about these issues that primarily impact women, we’ve got to realize that they are not just women’s issues,’’ he said at a White House forum on women and the economy. “They are family issues. They are growth issues. They are issues about American competitiveness. They are issues that impact all of us.’’

Obama’s comments came as women’s concerns, and the role women will play in choosing the next president, have taken on intensifying importance. Some Democrats have accused Republicans of waging a “war on women’’ and have turned national controversies over women’s rights into a vehicle for raising campaign cash.


The president has not used that phrase. He appealed for a debate that respected the role and needs of women as a driving economic force.

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“There’s been a lot of talk about women and women’s issues lately, as there should be,’’ Obama said. “But I do think that the conversation has been oversimplified. Women are not some monolithic bloc.’’

Still, after talking of his commitment to women in personal and policy terms, he offered the political context for his remarks: women and the election. Women have made up a majority of the electorate in each presidential year since 1984, and Obama is seeking to defend and expand a gender gap now working in his favor.

Without naming Republican Mitt Romney, his likely competitor in the presidential race, Obama warned of the perils of giving power to people who would seek to end coverage for preventative care such as mammograms and contraception, or slash college aid that disproportionately helps young women.

“That’s what’s at stake,’’ Obama said.


In the 2008 election, exit polls showed Obama won women by 13 points while splitting men about evenly with his Republican opponent, John McCain.

This time around, in a recent USA Today/Gallup poll of voters in 12 swing states, Obama held a lead of 18 percentage points among women.


Romney campaign airs ad with family home videos

WASHINGTON - Mitt Romney’s campaign, deploying what some consider his best political weapon, released a new ad on Friday showcasing his wife, Ann, talking about life with her “six boys.’’

The video, called “Family’’ and featuring upbeat music in the background, has Ann Romney for two minutes talking about the difficulties of watching over multiple children at one time, about longing to have her boys under one roof again, and about having to keep the entire family in line. Although she had five boys, she says, she considered her husband to be the sixth.


“He would be as mischievous and as naughty as the other boys,’’ she said. “He’d come home and everything would just explode again, and that’s the kind of energy that he’d bring home and just get them all riled up again and you know, wrestling and throwing balls and just being a kid himself.’’

The ad, which is being released only online and is not running on television, comes as Mitt Romney is struggling to attract support from women, and is still unable to connect with some voters.

Grainy home video footage and old family photos are shown the ad. One son displays a candy cane. Another is playing with Ann in the swimming pool. A third shows Mitt and two sons dragging a third on a beach towel.


Obama invokes trio of Republican icons

WASHINGTON - President Obama is embracing an unlikely group of political icons as he tries to paint Mitt Romney as extreme: He is praising Republican presidents from Abraham Lincoln to Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.

The Democratic president typically offers up GOP leaders of the past as evidence of how both parties can work together in Washington to pursue big ideas and rebuild the economy. With Election Day seven months away, Obama hopes to convince voters that he, like his Republican predecessors, is a reasonable moderate. At the same time, he is casting Romney as a candidate who would embrace too-conservative policies out of step with most Americans and with their own party in years past.

Obama invoked Reagan’s name four times in a speech this week to the Associated Press annual meeting. He said the conservative hero, never accused of being a “tax-and-spend socialist,’’ still recognized the need for tax increases as well as spending cuts to tame federal deficits. Obama’s verdict: “He could not get through a Republican primary today.’’

Painting Romney as an ideological extremist might seem a somewhat curious strategy for Obama given that the GOP nomination front-runner has been considered the moderate candidate in the Republican primary field and has struggled to consolidate support among conservatives in the party.

But Obama’s team hopes to define Romney in a negative light before the former Massachusetts governor has a chance to pivot toward the general election and emphasize his past positions that could appeal to moderates of both parties and the independent voters who can decide close races in polarized America.

Obama has cited Reagan more than 40 times in speeches and public events since 2009, according to an analysis of public statements and transcripts by the AP.

But Eisenhower is Obama’s favorite Republican for name-dropping - the president has referenced him more than 90 times. Lincoln is right behind with 80 mentions in public comments covered by the transcripts.

Among Democrats, Obama cited Bill Clinton most, about 60 times.