Winning Formula for GOP Women: 'Kitchen-Table' Talk

Sunday, 23 Mar 2014 08:32 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Republican women will win in congressional races this fall by not just pouncing on the failed policies of President Barack Obama, but by speaking in "kitchen-table" terms to voters, observers told Newsmax.

"Sometimes as a party, we tend to be the anti-government party," said Katie Packer Gage, a partner in Burning Glass Consulting, a GOP strategy firm based in Alexandria, Va. "Most women see a role for government, so we have to be able to talk about the role of government that really cares for people and for those who really need a safety net — but don't want to see that safety net turn into a hammock.

"They want to see something that protects the people who are the most vulnerable but that helps them move out of that vulnerability and into a place of a real opportunity," Gage added. "Those messages are very Republican and something that's really well received by women."

Pollster and GOP strategist Kellyanne Conway called them "the SHE cluster of issues." They are Social Security, healthcare, and education.

"The Republicans need to equip female candidates to talk about the economy in everyday kitchen-table terms: the cost of food and fuel, not the cost of imports from China," she told Newsmax.

"Explain to these voters who don't see themselves as job creators — and who, fortunately, are not job seekers — but the vast majority who are job holders. You have to explain to these jobholders why holding a job is no longer enough.

"When you grandfather got a job or when my grandfather got a job, it was enough to support the family," she added. "And now, it's no longer enough, not even close."

And, on education, it's Common Core, the state educational standards established by the White House that have been attacked by parents and teachers as too expensive and poorly designed.

"It's proving to be the disaster that many conservatives predicted," Conway said.

This ability to make Washington policies relevant to voters proved most effective for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers when she delivered the official GOP response to President Barack Obama's "State of the Union" address in January.

The Washington state legislator — who, as chair of the House Republican Conference, is the top highest-ranking woman in the lower chamber — won praise for her decidedly personal approach and emphasis on how Obama's policies have hurt everyday Americans.

In fact, Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen delivered a Spanish version of the of the GOP response to Obama's speech.

"I like to think that Cathy McMorris Rodgers was chosen for her leadership position and because she has a great story to tell," Gage said. "Not just because she's a woman, but because she's a very good spokesman for Republican ideals and she's got a great story to tell. All of that together makes for a great response."

"Tone matters," McMorris Rodgers told Newsmax, "so as I approached the speech, I wanted to share a relatable, compassionate vision on behalf of Republicans about how we believe that no matter who you are or where you come from you can close the gap from where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow."

But the strongest trump card for women GOP candidates is, of course, Obamacare.
"It's very appealing to women, a message that says that if you're a women you got a pretty raw deal out of Obamacare," Gage said. "If you're a woman, you're seeing a lot of promises that were made by this administration that haven't been kept — and you might be looking for a change in Washington."

Conway noted: "Women have a natural advantage as messengers against Obamacare, because women are the key healthcare officers of their households. They control two out of every three healthcare dollars spent in this country.

"Women are the vast majority of healthcare consumers, but they're also the vast majority of healthcare providers — nurses, home-health aides, half of medical students, about 42 percent of all pharmacists.

"Women, they're on both sides of the healthcare ledger as consumers and providers," she added. "They come to the table as more credible messengers against government-run healthcare and for patient-centric free-market healthcare."

In addition, Republican women can "show very crisply and very smartly that the real extremists on the issue of abortion are the Democrats," Conway said.

She noted that the Democrats have fared well on the issue because of "stupid things have been said by unfortunate messengers," referring to former Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri.

During his 2012 campaign for Senate, Akin said that abortion in cases of rape was unnecessary because "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Conway advised: "If I were running for the Senate, I'd say: 'I dare you one more time to ever again say that I'm against a woman's right to choose. I am a woman. You're not. I've been pregnant four times. You haven't been.'

"There's a certain level of disarming credibility that a female messenger has on issues of abortion, healthcare — and even education."

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a PAC that funds pro-life GOP women, said that "there are very, very few Republican women who are running for office now that are not pro life. It's not an accident. It's where the public actually is.

"It's not because the party has led them in that direction," she said. "It's where the base is — and it's where the expanding base is. Not even the Republican base. It's among independents and Democrats.

"Our main mission is to end abortion through the leadership of pro-life women," Dannenfelser said. "To that end, women are in the best situation, they're uniquely situated to be authorities on the topic.

Regardless of the issue, the GOP should be pummeling voters now with messages about Obama's failed policies, pollster and debate expert Matt Towery told Newsmax.

"The Republican Party's big mistake is that they do not get their message across when someone is down," he said, referring to Obama's poor job-approval ratings. "The president is down right now — and they don't drill it into people's minds so that they will remember it in a November contest.

"The Republican Party, right now, needs to be hammering the president in television ads in these swing states about Obamacare, the jobless recovery" — even his attack on income inequality," Towery said.

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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