Obama, in Va., continues to go after Romney

President Obama kept up his tough critique of rival Mitt Romney during a rally in Northern Virginia on Friday, attacking his rival’s positions on health care and contraception in an appeal to women voters.

Obama used his appearance at George Mason University in Fairfax to hail the news that the economy added 114,000 jobs in September and the jobless rate had fallen to 7.8 percent, the lowest since the president took office. However, he added that more work needs to be done to ensure that unemployed Americans can find work.

As he did Thursday during speeches in Denver and Madison, Wis., Obama went on the offensive in the wake of his sluggish debate performance two days ago. He again mocked Romney’s comment, during their debate Wednesday in Denver, that he would eliminate federal funding to PBS even though he likes Big Bird.

“When he was asked what he’d actually do to cut spending and reduce the deficit, his big example is to go after public television,” Obama said. “So, for all you moms and kids out there, don’t worry — someone is finally getting tough on Big Bird. Rounding him up. Elmo has got to watch out, too. Governor Romney plans to let Wall Street run wild again, but he’s going to bring down the hammer on ‘Sesame Street.’ It makes perfect sense.”

The Romney campaign released a statement from Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), who said that 23 million Americans remain out of work or stuck in part-time jobs. “President Obama’s policies are not working to deliver the real recovery our country needs,” McDonnell said. “We limp from month to month of sluggish job growth that is barely sufficient to keep up with population growth.”

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In his speech, the president lit into Romney on women’s health issues, an area where the Obama campaign believes it has gained a significant advantage. Polls show the president with a healthy lead among women voters nationally, an edge that has helped boost him to a lead in swing states, including Virginia, where Obama leads Romney by 19 points among women.

Obama warned that Romney’s economic policies would return the country to the past decade under his predecessor, George W. Bush, and that Romney’s health-care policies would return women to the 1950s by limiting their ability to access contraception, get an abortion and purchase insurance that covers breast cancer.

“The decisions that affect a woman’s health are not up to politicians, they’re not up to insurance companies, they’re up to you,” Obama said. “You deserve a president who will fight to keep it that way.”

In Virginia, state GOP lawmakers gained national attention this year after proposing legislation that would have required that most women seeking an abortion undergo a transvaginal ultrasound, a concept lampooned by liberal TV commentators and even “Saturday Night Live.” Amid the uproar, McDonnell had the bill amended to specify a less invasive method, but Democrats have continued to try to capitalize politically on the controversy.

Obama also alluded obliquely to the political fight this year over his health-care reform bill’s requirement that employers provide female employees with coverage that pays for contraception. After leaders of the Catholic Church, along with social conservatives, protested, the administration allowed some exemptions for religious institutions.

“I don’t think your boss should control the care you get. I don’t think insurance companies should control the care you get. I definitely don’t think politicians on Capitol Hill should control the care you get,” the president said. “We’ve seen some of their attitudes. We’ve read about those. I think there’s one person who gets to make decisions about your health care — that’s you.”

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.
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