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Attempts to scare women and exploit their votes in the 2012 campaign

By | September 24th, 2012

Pres. Obama’s re-election coalition, including NARAL (through its “Obama defectors” targeting) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), are attempting to exploit the votes of women on issues such as contraception and abortion.

Why? To divert attention from the Obama Administration’s disastrous economic record the past three years.

An August fundraising e-mail from DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil, titled “Bar, Destroy, Outlaw,” [as archived by ProPublica.org], is typical of the overheated rhetoric:

“If Romney and Ryan take the White House and Senate, the Tea Party fringe will control our entire government. Threats to bar abortion, destroy Medicare, and outlaw contraception will become real.”

Cecil may be familiar to Coloradans – in particular – as he was formerly chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., who ran a slash-and-burn campaign against Republican challenger Ken Buck in 2010, focused on gender gap issues. During one of their 2010 debates, Bennet said to Buck…

BENNET: “My question is: Who’s going to go to jail, Ken…when you criminalize abortion in the case of rape and incest, and an abortion occurs, who’s going to jail?”

[Their full exchange is at this link.]

Cecil, “widely credited for helping lead a gangbusters campaign to secure Bennet’s victory,” according to The Denver Post, moved after the 2010 election to run the DSCC, responsible for trying to keep the Senate in Democratic hands.

In April 2012, Cecil appeared with his Republican counterpart, Rob Jesmer, on C-SPAN. Note that this is two months after Sandra Fluke’s remarks on contraception to a Democratic Congressional panel, but well before the summer political campaigns were underway, and before most voters began paying attention.

For at least that long, a national strategy appears to be in the works based on what worked so well for Bennet in 2010 in Colorado. Here’s Cecil on C-SPAN on April 12, when asked how the presidential race might affect the Senate races…


Cecil: “But I also suspect that in Senate races, unlike House races, the money will be there to make this election a choice between the two people that are actually on the ballot. And we’ll be able to draw a strong contrast between the Republican vision for the country, which involves voting against the Buffett rule; it involves making sure we do everything possible for women to have more difficulty accessing contraception and health care coverage; versus the Democratic vision for the country, which is to address the debt and deficit in a responsible way without tearing apart the social safety net of our country.”

Given the opportunity to name the defining issues of the campaign, Cecil didn’t address the economy, made a passing reference to the deficit, and in between, went straight to the symbolic Buffett rule, and contraception.

Then later on, at about 30:00, there’s this exchange:

Moderator: “Did Hilary Rosen’s critique of Mrs. Romney [saying that Romney hadn't "worked a day in her life"] have any dent on the issues oriented toward women that you’ve been working on?”

Cecil: “The short answer is no. I do think this is a short-term side-show, that is interesting for cable news to cover. And I noticed that Rob derisively talked about the ‘Battle Against Women’ earlier. The fact of the matter is, at every since turn, when we talked about jobs, debt, the deficit, the budget, turning our country around, the Republicans, not the Democrats, have targeted contraception, Planned Parenthood… And we need to do everything we can, while the Republicans started this fight, to end it, by electing Democrats.”

While avoiding the question, Cecil cleverly does two things: he uses it as a hook to re-engage on gender gap issues, and he implies that Democrats are not going to engage a debate on the core economic issues, because the ‘Battle Against Women’ is what’s going to help get them elected.

The stagecraft of that message is readily amplified in the media.

“The same themes Bennet used — notably abortion rights and contraception — have been put to use again in Colorado and were underscored at the Democratic convention in Charlotte last week,” according to a Sept. 10 story titled, “9 states where the race will be won” in Politico. “There’s a reason the president campaigned in Colorado with Sandra Fluke in early August, and why he’ll be back again later this week.”

One of the key Senate races is in Massachusetts, where U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R.-Mass., is being challenged by Democrat Elizabeth Warren, who raised gender-gap issues in their first debate last week [see video above].

“You know, you should stop scaring women, professor, because I’ve been fighting for women since I was six years old, as I said,” said Brown. “And the things that you’re referring to, listen, I’m going to fight for the rights of Catholics to practice their faith. I’m not going to pit women against their Church and their faith. I want…people to have contraception care. I have a houseful of women, my wife and two daughters, and I’ve been fighting for that since I was a state [representative] and a state senator…I have the same position as Sen. [Ted] Kennedy in providing a conscience exemption…

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