WASHINGTON -- A day after firing up the Democratic base with a debate performance designed to do just that, Vice President Joe Biden on Friday kept the momentum going by appealing to another key faction of voters: women.
During a campaign event in La Crosse, Wis., Biden said the one thing that Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan made clear in Thursday's debate was that he and Mitt Romney, his running mate, will erode women's rights. Biden warned of the likelihood that a President Romney would appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade and highlighted Ryan's support for legislation that would ban abortions in all cases, including rape and incest.
Romney and Ryan "are prepared to impose their private views on everyone else ... They do not believe a woman has a right to control her own body," Biden said to boos.
The vice president also slammed Ryan for "holding hostage" the Violence Against Women Act, which has stalled in Congress, and for opposing the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which helps ensure that men and women are paid equally for the same jobs.
"I happen to think my daughter should get paid exactly what any man is getting paid for the job that she's doing," Biden said to some of the loudest cheers at the event. "Barack Obama and Joe Biden are absolutely, positively, firmly committed to ensuring that our daughters and my granddaughters have the exact same rights and opportunities to control their lives as my grandsons. Make no mistake about that. These guys have a social policy out of the 50s."
The women's vote is a key voting bloc for Obama and Romney, and Biden's latest appeal to women is aimed at countering recent gains by Romney in this demographic. For the first time in the campaign, Romney took the lead among women voters this week, a shift that occurred right after Obama's lackluster performance in last week's presidential debate. A Pew Research Center survey released Monday showed Romney polling even with Obama among women, a huge contrast to Obama's 18-point lead among women in a Pew poll just a month earlier.
It's unclear, though probably unlikely, that the Biden-Ryan debate will have a real impact on the women's vote. Post-debate polls offer mixed findings. But it is worth noting that Ryan may have hurt his standing among women when, during the debate, he turned a question about faith into an extended attack on abortion.
"I believe that life begins at conception ... those are the reasons why I'm pro-life," Ryan said. "Now, I understand this is a difficult of issue, and I respect people who don't agree with me on this, but the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortion with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother."
Biden quipped, "I guess he accepts Gov. Romney's position now, because in the past he has argued that ... in the case of rape or incest ... it would be a crime to engage in having an abortion. I just fundamentally disagree with my friend."