But it still seems unlikely that 92.3 percent will become a mainstay of the campaign. The problem is, it just doesn't sound right. Without questioning the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, people know friends and family members who have lost jobs in the recession. They've seen with their own eyes what it has done to businesses. And they have a basic, commonsense understanding that job losses from the economic downturn have been devastating to both men and women, did not start in January 2009, and are not the result of anyone's war on one gender or the other.
Romney campaign officials say they're not trying to suggest that Barack Obama has somehow targeted women for bad treatment, but that Obama's policies have been terrible for women overall. "The point we're trying to make is that the Obama agenda has been a disaster for women," says a campaign aide. "It's not that the Obama administration has pursued policies that advantaged men at the expense of women. ... The point is, on the issues that matter to women, the Obama administration has failed."
The underlying point they're trying to make, say Romney aides, is that the big issue for women is the economy, not contraceptives or abortion, as Democrats screaming "war on women" would have voters believe. Of course, those issues that matter most to women -- jobs, economic growth, the price of gas -- matter just as much to men. None of them involves a "war on women" by anybody.
One of the main themes of the Romney campaign is that in 2009 and 2010, when Americans were desperate for a president to devote his energies to creating jobs and fixing the economy, Obama was instead obsessed with passing an intrusive and vastly expensive national health-care plan, as well as with pushing through Congress a pork-laden stimulus, and even hoped to pass a cap-and-trade scheme that would have reordered the parts of the economy that hadn't already been reordered by the health-care scheme.
Yet now Romney calls Obama's obvious economic failures "the real war on women." Romney's motives are pretty transparent: He's trying to fight back against the Democrats' latest talking point. But Republicans know the Democratic charge is ridiculous. Why make one of their own?
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