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Planned Parenthood takes credit for Obama reelection

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

Planned Parenthood, whose federal funding was threatened by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, is taking credit for President Obama's reelection by keeping independent women scared long enough about Romney's agenda for Obama to win them over.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, on Wednesday said that the women's health group, starting in June, focused on keeping the minds of independent women open to voting for Obama by warning how Romney would rob them of birth control and abortion. That, she said, gave the president enough time to convince women that the economy was getting better and that he was leading the recovery.

Ignoring women who had already decided how to vote, Laguens told an Emily's List post-election analysis panel that "there was a whole group [of women] that, what it looked like we could do, is expand the amount of time they were willing to give the president and the economy to recover. So we could kind of hold them in 'undecided' by, in particularly in the presidency, by making Mitt Romney questionable in their mind on our set of issues."

The effort had a simple strategy: Just get women, frustrated with the economy, to hold off deciding for Romney. "Don't. Wait. Gotta learn more about this stuff," was the theme, said Laguens.

She said the effort "might not be able to close the deal with them, but could keep the elevator doors open, hold it open, until we could see the economy start to come up and the president's campaign do that closing argument that really did finally tip them over. And I really think that was the role that we played in there with a lot of independent women."

Despite earlier polls showing Romney strong with women, a huge gender gap showed up on Election Day, with Obama beating Romney among women 56 percent to 44 percent. And in some states where abortion and birth control were issues, such as in Missouri, record numbers of women voted.

Women candidates, especially Democrats, scored big, prompting Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily's List, which supports pro-choice Democratic women, to cheer "We won."

And Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Florida Democrat and chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said it is time to "double down" on women's issues going into the 2014 midterm elections.