With a new Gallup poll showing GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney pulling into a tie with President Barack Obama among women in swing states, the former Massachusetts governor launched a major play for women voters during Tuesday’s debate.
Romney focused his response on employment opportunities for women and workplace flexibility. Obama countered by veering sharply into social issues, suggesting Romney opposes the availability of contraception for women, in addition to seeking to cut government funding for Planned Parenthood.
Romney spoke about how he pushed for flexible work schedules for women during his term as governor of Massachusetts. CNN’s running meter of the responses of undecided voters showed women voters responding very positively to Romney’s narrative.
Romney also said 3.5 million women have been added to the poverty rolls since Obama took office, while Planned Parenthood continues to get government subsidies.
In his response, the president turned the focus to women’s reproductive issues, including contraception and abortion rights.
“These are not just women’s issues,” said the president. “They’re family issues. They’re economic issues . . . I’ve got two daughters and I want to make sure that they have the same opportunities as anybody’s sons have.”
Romney added that he has never opposed women’s access to contraception.
In another indication that women hold the key to the 2012 election, the Obama campaign pushed back hard Tuesday against a Gallup survey that showed Obama and Romney deadlocked at 48 percent to 48 percent among women voters in battleground states.
Obama pollster Joel Benenson called the poll “an extreme outlier, defying the trends seen in every other battleground and national poll.”
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