POLITICS

Democrats target McDonnell as insensitive to women

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Photo - Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (Getty Images)
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (Getty Images)
Politics,Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

President Obama's campaign and Virginia Democrats attempted Tuesday to link Gov. Bob McDonnell to the fallout from Missouri Rep. Todd Akin's insensitive comments about rape.

The Republican Party platform committee, headed by McDonnell, voted Tuesday to reaffirm its position in favor of a constitutional amendment banning all abortions without exceptions for rape, incest or if the mother's life is in danger. The party platform from 2004 and 2008 included nearly identical language.

The typically arcane process drew heightened scrutiny after Akin, a Senate candidate in Missouri, said women can't get pregnant if it is a "legitimate rape."

After the vote, McDonnell, whom Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney considered as a running mate, thanked the committee for "affirming our respect for human life," according to reports. Democrats immediately seized on it.

"Republican leaders passed the Akin amendment as part of their party platform, banning abortion for all women, even in the case of rape, and saluting states that pass laws forcing women to undergo ultrasounds before an abortion," said Marianne von Nordeck, spokeswoman for Obama's Virginia campaign. "Several Romney supporters and advisers were present, including ultrasound-supporter Gov. Bob McDonnell, and stood silently while this vote took place."

McDonnell said the platform is in line with what the party has believed for many years and that "current events ... don't affect this document."

"We also believe that many of the decisions on these specific policies ought to be left to the states," McDonnell added.

McDonnell's stock in Virginia took a hit this spring, after he initially supported a bill that would have required women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound before an abortion. The bill was later altered, at McDonnell's behest, so doctors instead must conduct an abdominal ultrasound prior to the procedure.

McDonnell has since rebounded, and a recent Quinnipiac University poll found his approval rating at 52 percent with just 31 percent of women disapproving of his job. Romney's favorability among women, however, is underwater, and Obama is dominating Romney among female voters.

Virginia Democrats hope the Akin remarks and the party platform are a new opportunity to attack McDonnell, Romney's top surrogate in the commonwealth, on women's issues.

"This is the voting bloc that is going to swing the election in 2012," said Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington. "To be out of touch with that sort of core set of values to me is mind-boggling. Clearly they're putting their heads in the sand."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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