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Opinion: Columnists

Rep. Renee Ellmers' attack on me shows why the GOP is losing the Democrats' 'war on women'

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Opinion,Columnists,Republican Party,2014 Elections,Ashe Schow,War on Women,Renee Ellmers

Here's how I became a "liberal woman reporter" — and why that's bad news for the Republican Party in its efforts to attract women voters.

On Friday, I covered a panel discussion among conservative women on how the GOP can better explain why its policies help Americans and how to ward off "war on women" attacks from Democrats. I quoted Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., as saying men needed to bring their arguments “down to a woman's level."

In her response, Ellmers called me a “liberal woman reporter” and accused me of “attacking” the panel she was speaking on and “taking it to a dark place that does not exist.” She said I took her remarks "completely out of context."

So I posted Ellmers' full remarks with audio. Ellmers then, um, tweeted the link to that article, essentially using my article to defend herself from ... my article.

Even a rudimentary online search of my name reveals I could not in any known universe be considered a “liberal” reporter.

And that’s my point. Without doing any research, Ellmers and her staff assumed that my criticism meant I was liberal.

If that's how they treat someone on their side, imagine what they would do to someone on the fence.


The Republican women in Congress are the ones who can do the most to combat the Left’s narrative, yet they’re not doing so to any recognizable extent. All they say is, "We need to tell more stories."

Now imagine an undecided voter voicing her opinion and being attacked by Ellmers. Do you think she would ever vote Republican?

In a panel about messaging, counting people out as lost causes before learning anything about them seems like the wrong approach.

If Ellmers was on the campaign trail, and someone asked her a tough question, would she take the time to learn that person’s personal story and why they asked the question, or would she simply dismiss them as “liberal”?

If the GOP just dismisses criticism as “liberal,” it can never hope to win the hearts and minds of people on the fence — the very people the party needs in order to keep winning elections (or ever retake the presidency).

Ellmers' approach wasn’t to reconsider the message or the messenger, but to attack the person who heard the message. How is that going to win elections?

She further noted in her response that “the point of Friday’s panel was to have an open conversation regarding how we communicate our values and principles to women across this country.”

So in an “open conversation,” Ellmers would say things she shouldn’t say on the campaign trail? Regardless of anything else she said (and she did say a lot of positive things), saying one dumb thing can derail a campaign.

And politicians need to be mindful of that. Nearly all the panelists were able to speak at length about changing the message without saying something that sets off red flags.

Ellmers said many great things about how to fix the narrative, but her not-so-poetic comments made me forget all the good things and fixate on the bad.

And that’s what the GOP needs to realize. The media are not going to give them a pass for comments — they must be mindful of their words.

And of course, they need to actually follow their own advice and tell more personal stories.

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Author:

Ashe Schow

Commentary Writer
The Washington Examiner

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