Democrat Tim Kaine went after Republican George Allen as an anti-woman candidate Monday as he continues to put social issues at the center of his campaign to court the coveted suburban female vote.
Kaine was on the offensive with a new radio ad that hits Allen for dismissing social issues like abortion, and he homed in on that message during a campaign stop in Fairfax geared toward women. He insisted that social issues -- like whether a woman's contraception is covered by her employer's insurance -- have economic consequences as well.
"The notion that 'Well, you know, women are just 50-plus percent of the economy, these are just little social issues,' it's demeaning. It's condescending," Kaine said. "I do think we need to be making the case always that these are basic bread-and-butter economic issues that affect families and a woman's financial well-being."
Kaine tried to get that point across in last month's debate, but it was largely overshadowed when he said that he would consider a minimum income tax for all Americans. The Democratic hopeful was forced to defend that much-maligned statement most of last week.
But he revived the war-on-women rhetoric Monday, as he continues to pressure Allen to address his support of federal personhood legislation and other pro-life positions.
Allen's campaign called the attacks a distraction from Kaine's economic record.
"When Tim Kaine talks about women facing difficult economic issues, he is right," said Allen spokeswoman Emily Davis. "Under the [President] Obama-Kaine economic policies of the last four years, women have disproportionately borne the brunt of the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression."
The latest Quinnipiac University survey from September gives Kaine a 15-point lead among female voters, reflecting a nationwide gender gap that has plagued Republicans. But Allen captures 51 percent of the vote from white women, 7 points higher than Kaine at 44 percent.
Still, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's lead over Obama with white women in Virginia is twice the size of Allen's.
Kaine is still far short of matching Democratic Sen. Mark Warner's appeal with women. Warner grabbed 58 percent of support from white females in his successful 2008 Senate campaign -- a third of all voters.
The Democratic candidate acknowledged Monday that his campaign must reach beyond women's health issues to win over suburban white women who are not backing him in overwhelming numbers despite his persistent attacks on Allen's social record.
"Expanding early-childhood education, expanding the higher-ed system, focusing upon common-sense solutions to transportation challenges, those are issues that speak directly to quality of life for women and men," Kaine said.