Economic distress, not abortion, drives Romney women

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

Many women supporting presidential candidate Mitt Romney are not driven by contraception politics but by struggling household economies, despite Democratic expectations that they will build the gender gap by assailing the Republican as a pro-lifer driven to end abortion.

In interviews with female Romney supporters, most don't think he will delve into abortion issues other than to limit federal funding if given a chance as president. Some pro-choice women even told Secrets that they are confident he won't challenge that status quo because he hasn't made it a centerpiece of his campaign.

"I don't think he will change it," said Jennifer Sicking, a mother of three an operating room nurse from Leesburg, Va.

"There are bigger fish to fry," said Coleen Daniels of Frederick, Md., who brought her children and neighbors the 30 miles to see Romney at a Leesburg rally Wednesday. "I'd rather see him put his mind to bigger issues like the economy."

Diane Davis, a Winchester, Va., mother wearing a pink "Women for Romney" button, said she opposes abortion but didn't consider Romney until she heard his economic arguments during the GOP primary debates. "The more I heard, the more I liked," said Davis in a comment backed up by post-presidential debate polling

Elaine Gray, holding a "Women for Romney" sign at the Leesburg event, added, "Really, it's about the economy and putting women back to work." Gray, from Belmont, Va., dismissed Democratic attacks on Romney's anti-abortion position as a "scare tactic," and said "women are not one issue people."

Gray's economic situation has recently been dire, driving her to seek a change in Washington. On the Election Day 2008, she said, her husband lost his job and she subsequently lost hers, though now she's working in the construction industry.

It's exactly women hit by the economy that the Romney campaign is trying to capture by spelling out the situation women have faced over the last four years. Interestingly, Gray, Davis, and her sister June Aukerman of Pittsburgh, can recite the economic details of the female economy, some of which Romney addressed Wednesday night:

-- Nearly 5.5 million women are currently unemployed.

-- The number of unemployed women has increased by nearly half a million.

-- The number of women living in poverty climbed to a record high of 25.7 million on his watch.

-- In 2011, 16.3% of women were living in poverty - the highest rate in 17 years.

They also expressed dismay that Romney's effort to woo women to his administration when governor Massachusetts--highlighted by his Tuesday debate line "a binder full of women"--is being used against him.

"Obama's been no ally to women," said another woman at the Leesburg rally in a reference to former White House aide Anita Dunn's comments to author Ron Suskind that, "If it weren't for the president, this place would be in court for a hostile workplace...because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women."