Obama, Romney Step Up Pursuit of Women Voters

Obama supporters; photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Supporters of President Obama applaud at a campaign event in Las Vegas last month. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

President Obama and Mitt Romney intensified their focus on women voters Wednesday, following Tuesday’s debate that saw issues such as pay equity, abortion rights and contraception move front and center in the campaign.

For much of the race, Mr. Obama has enjoyed a strong advantage among female voters, but a recent USA Today/Gallup survey of swing states found Romney had narrowed the gap to just a single point, 49 percent to 48 percent. (The president, whose team disputed the Gallup figures, still held a 52 percent to 43 percent lead in the 38 non-swing states and Washington, D.C.)

Both candidates spent time on the trail Wednesday telling voters why his opponent was not as strong an advocate for women.

President Obama, talking up the need for more math and science teachers in Iowa, seized on Romney’s line from the debate about recruiting more women for his Cabinet after he was elected governor of Massachusetts.

“I’ve got to tell you, we don’t have to collect a bunch of binders to find qualified, talented, driven young women ready to learn and teach in these fields right now,” Mr. Obama said. “And when young women graduate, they should get equal pay for equal work. That should be a simple question to answer.”

Romney, meanwhile, slammed the president for not doing more to help women who are struggling economically.

“Why is it that there are 3.6 million more women in poverty today than when the president took office? This president has failed America’s women. They have suffered in terms of getting jobs. They have suffered in terms of falling into poverty. This is a presidency that has not helped America’s women,” Romney charged.

With each campaign looking to capitalize on — or move past — the town hall debate, Team NewsHour dove right in, examining the facts and figures thrown around and exploring the political fallout.

Our eight-minute fact-check piece crafted by each of the beats on staff looked at the truth behind debate statements on Libya, the environment and taxes.

Watch that in-depth report here or below:

We also looked at the record on contraception and how each campaign is looking to win over female voters with precious days left before the nation’s voters head to the polls.

Judy Woodruff talked with two journalists closely tracking the campaigns. Julie Pace of the Associated Press remarked that both candidates were going after the same slice of the electorate.

“This all comes down to battleground states. If you look at a state like Colorado, suburban women outside of Denver, those are the swing voters that both of these campaigns are going after. So, that’s why you’re seeing so much focus on women. You’re going to see that straight through the end of this, for sure,” Pace said.

Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post added that President Obama took a more “assertive” approach with his pitch to women during the debate.

“Some polls suggest there has been some slippage from the president among women voters. Those are primarily white women and highly educated affluent white women,” Tumulty said. “And so I was really struck by the degree to which the president aggressively promoted some of the things that he has done, like contraceptive coverage, actually, his economic issues, as health care reform as an economic issue, to really sort of try to weave his entire agenda into the economy.”

Watch the conversation here or below:

We also hosted one of our issue-and-debate series, this one looking at the candidates’ records on China.

Watch that discussion here or below:

Production assistant Alex Bruns and desk assistant Cindy Huang distilled the debate into less than eight minutes. Watch that here.

We also posted a roundup of Tuesday nights’ most notable questions, thanks to politics desk assistant Geoffrey Lou Guray and politics online production assistant Meena Ganesan. Cast your vote on how each candidate answered them.


NewsHour desk assistant Meredith Garretson reported on an Obama volunteer training session and rally in Washington, D.C., Wednesday night. She talked with voters outside the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue and got a sense of renewed enthusiasm among the President Obama’s supporters following the debate. Meredith filed this dispatch:

Obama campaign workers stood at high top tables with laptops, checking in potential canvassers. Gerouis Latson, 58, said the election “is not a sport; this is for real.” Latson, a Vietnam War veteran using a cane, said he fears that Romney lacks the foreign experience vital to make the best judgment concerning the military. “Romney has an appetite for power, but he doesn’t know how to use it appropriately,” he said. “I’m most concerned with [Romney’s] foreign policy. He hasn’t done anything.”

Latson gave President Obama high marks and said he will work phone banks and do outreach to fellow veterans for the election. “Obama has brought a camaraderie that we haven’t had before. It’s a sort of, we’re all in this together and we’ll stick the hard times together. He’s willing to talk with people across the aisle so he can find the best solution,” Latson said.

Soloman T. Miles, 76, attended the event wearing a 2009 commemorative inauguration baseball cap. He said he thinks this election will be much closer than in 2008. “I think he’s gonna win, but I think its going to be close. He deserves another four years to continue the work he’s doing,” Miles said, citing high unemployment rates among recent college graduates and the ongoing health care debate as reasons why the president has lost standing over the last four years.

Joel Rothshield, 33, said he’s getting involved locally to help get voters to the polls in neighboring states. “Here in D.C., we don’t have a lot of representation, but we can get involved with Virginia and Maryland politics. I feel most passionate about voter suppression. I feel like there’s been a lot of that recently,” Rothshield said, referencing new voter I.D. laws in some states. “If we’re going to be a self-respecting democracy, we gotta make sure people can vote.”


As we mentioned Wednesday, NPR’s Debbie Elliott spent time with Florida voters, showing them television ads and getting their reactions.

NewsHour reporter-producer Cassie M. Chew made this video from Orlando showing independent voters who are frustrated with the constant inundation of ads. Watch here or below.


Thursday’s tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA focuses on oil.

The nonpartisan organization posted a video with details on how alternative fuels are not the standard in this country, since “93 percent of American transport still depends on petroleum.”


  • Binders continued to dominate the political discussion. The Boston Globe examined the history behind Romney’s remark about his administration’s hiring practices. Roll Call’s Janie Lorber talked with digital strategists about the ease of snapping up attack sites to ride a meme. And the Wall Street Journal looked at the woman who started the Tumblr site, a recently laid-off blogger.
  • A new Marquette Law School poll (conducted before the second debate) finds President Obama and Romney in a dead heat in Wisconsin, 49 percent to 48 percent. Two weeks ago the survey showed Mr. Obama with an 11-point advantage.
  • CNN reports that Team Obama has chosen McCormick Place in Chicago for its election night party.
  • Fox News’ Ed Henry noticed the president “may be recalibrating his campaign rhetoric on Al Qaeda, in the aftermath of the Libya terror attack,” with fewer references to the group being “on the run.”
  • A new Harvard Institute of Politics poll of millenials finds young Romney supporters are more enthusiastic about voting than young supporters of Mr. Obama.
  • The Washington Post’s Jason Horowitz looks back to 1994 for a piece on Romney’s Senate race against Ted Kennedy.
  • Mother Jones notices that around the next debate, Romney will try to raise cash at three private fundraisers in Boca Raton, Fla., the city where he was captured on camera talking about “47 percent” of Americans.
  • Tuesday’s debate had 65 million viewers, according to Nielsen.
  • BET News “will examine the intersection of race and politics in ‘Second Coming? Will Black America Decide 2012,’ a two-part documentary that airs Friday and Oct. 26 at 9 p.m. ET,” The Root reports.
  • NewsHour economics correspondent Paul Solman follows up on his presidential prediction markets story by looking at how someone can actually use them to make money.
  • Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., had a little trouble sorting out his Cleveland Browns quarterbacks during a visit to the team’s practice on Wednesday. That comes on the heels, of course, of the vice presidential nominee struggling to pick an allegiance in the Ohio State-Wisconsin game.
  • During a radio interview Wednesday, Tagg Romney joked that he wanted to “take a swing” at President Obama for forcefully challenging his father during the second debate.
  • The debate, songified.



  • The Marquette Law School poll also shows former GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson and Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin locked in a close race for the U.S. Senate in Wisconsin. The survey puts Thompson at 46 percent and Baldwin at 45 percent.
  • The Los Angeles Times’ Richard Simon writes that the newly drawn congressional boundaries in California also mean in influx of cash: “The Sacramento-area race between Republican Rep. Dan Lungren and Democrat Ami Bera has drawn more spending by outside groups than any congressional race in the country — more than $6.2 million — as the parties battle for control of the House.”
  • Stu Rothenberg finds some potential House race upsets.
  • Politico’s Manu Raju and David Catanese report on Senate Republicans’ chances of reclaiming the chamber.
  • The New York Times’ Raymond Hernandez reports that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is forming his own super PAC to help candidates in the 2012 election who support his initiatives on same-sex marriage, gun control and school reform.
  • Politico’s Seung Min Kim finds that nearly 200 harassment claims were filed on Capitol Hill during the last fiscal year.
  • Roll Call’s Shira Toeplitz is spending the next two weeks traveling from Pennsylvania to Illinois, covering, as she puts it, “some of the Rust Belt’s hottest House and Senate races.” Follow the adventure on a new micro-site.,
  • Roll Call’s Abby Livingston reports that the National Republican Congressional Committee pulled its ad reservations from the Philadelphia market.
  • Colorado Christian University will get a refund after acknowledging a $5,000 donation made in error to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s campaign, the Center for Public Integrity reports.

Dan Sagalyn contributed to this report.


All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama attends a campaign event in Manchester, N.H., at 11:35 a.m. and delivers remarks at the Alfred E. Smith Foundation Dinner in New York at 7:55 p.m.
  • Mitt Romney addresses the Alfred E. Smith Dinner at 9 p.m.
  • Vice President Biden attends a Las Vegas event at 2 p.m.
  • Paul Ryan holds an event in Ocala, Fla., at 12:40 p.m.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

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