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Right Turn
Posted at 02:58 PM ET, 04/12/2012

Engaging the base

Lefty blogger and defender of Obamacare and the Buffett Rule Ezra Klein opines that Hilary Rosen’s attack on the most popular person in the campaign (Ann Romney) won’t “matter to even one voter in November.” Really? I have no doubt the Obama team and its spinners wish it were so, but we have some anecdotal evidence already that this is not the case.

Consider this. Soon after Rick Santorum dropped out of the race, Concerned Women for America, a conservative group with 500,000 in membership, put out a stern statement:

“Both President Obama and Mitt Romney had better beware. Women are watching this election closely and have carried every election since 1964. Now, I’ll be the first to acknowledge that women are in no way monolithic. Each candidate should be segmenting us properly to understand each group’s hot button issues and addressing them when appropriate. But a pat on the head and ‘free birth control’ won’t cut it. “And while it may be tempting to substitute their wives’ activism for addressing us personally, please know that we cannot be won over by your spouse. As nice as it is to have a winsome First Lady, at the end of the day she’s not the ‘decision maker.’ Ann Romney, for example, is extremely likable, but she alone will not win her husband the women’s vote. “Here is the ultimate reality check for the GOP. Yes, women swung six points away from Barack Obama to carry Republicans to victory in 2010, but that is not a guarantee of our continued support. And as much as the Republican establishment is pushing him, women have not yet taken to Mitt Romney at this point in the election cycle. That vote is still to be won. All presidential candidates should be highlighting their desire and ability to follow a budget and live within their means.

Its executive director, Penny Nance, sent a warning shot over Mitt Romney’s bow: “I personally threw my support to Rick but I’ve said all along that I will support the Republican nominee. I would encourage Gov. Romney to reach out to conservative women since they are the ones who get on the phones and do tons of volunteer work.” In other words, you’re not getting our help quite yet, and we just might sit this one out.

Today, Nance was taking the fight to the Democrats. Today’s statement reads:

“Rosen is wrong on so many levels. Stay-at-home moms hold the purse strings for the family. Statistically, they are better qualified to give economic advice than Obama’s advisors. Talk about energy policy, these women see the effects every day of desperately trying to manage paying almost four dollars a gallon for gas at the pump. They make tough choices to live within their families’ budget every month, something this administration is clearly unable to do. Stay-at-home moms are also experts in the areas of education, nutrition, and a host of other issues. Rosen’s remarks expose a deeper problem with the values of this administration and even sometimes society at large. We say raising kids is the hardest and most important work in the world. How does this administration not get how important stay-at-home moms are to our nation? Haven’t they heard the saying, ‘The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world’? And in this case, it swings elections.”

That’s not an official endorsement. But it sure is going to get many women and other social conservatives engaged in the race. Nance also took part in a Romney campaign press call on why “the Obama economy isn’t working for women.” Ms. Rosen “accomplished” what heretofore Romney had not.

At least in the GOP, Nance is right that women volunteers are critical. And getting them very mad at what they perceive as the condescending left is not a good idea for Democrats. (Hence, the belated apology from Rosen and the efforts by Obama’s team to distance itself from her put-down of stay-at-home mothers.)

Meanwhile, the pro-life Susan B. Anthony group, which was none too pleased that Romney refused to sign its very detailed pledge during the primary, is out with an official endorsement today. “‘The difference between Governor Romney and President Obama couldn’t be clearer, which is why our Board of Directors voted unanimously to get behind him,’ said Jane Abraham, Chairman of the SBA List Board of Directors. ‘It is the responsibility of all pro-life voters to now unite behind Governor Romney. Together we can put a pro-life leader in the White House.’”

The quicker and more ardently the base gathers around Romney, the better off he is on everything from fundraising to get-out-the-vote to allocating time in critical swing states to winning over undecided voters.

The alliance between Romney and social conservatives may be an uneasy one. But President Obama made it a whole lot easier for Romney to argue that there is simply no comparison between him and the president.

By  |  02:58 PM ET, 04/12/2012

Categories:  2012 campaign, Media

 
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