10/31/2013 11:00 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Political Trick or Treat: Scary Charades from Male Candidates

Most adults may not dress up in costume for Halloween. Yet that hasn't stopped some political candidates from masquerading as something they're not in order to woo women voters. In races across the country, we're hearing some intentionally misleading comments from men. Here's a look at a few of these tricks -- and their more forthright alternatives.

Trick: Greg Abbott says "nobody" has done more to help fight for Texas women than he has
The Texas Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate pays lip service to fighting for women -- he says he worked to recover billions in child support for families and made domestic violence cases a centerpiece of his work as the state's leading lawyer. But his rhetoric on women's health and his opponent, State Senator Wendy Davis, paint a different picture about his "support" for women. Case in point: He is staunchly anti-choice and compared healthcare provider Planned Parenthood to a terrorist organization. He joined other Attorneys General in slamming the Affordable Care Act mandate requiring health insurers to cover birth control. And when an Abbott fan called Davis a "Retard Barbie" on Twitter, Abbott didn't express anything but thanks for the support.

Treat: Wendy Davis actually is working for women
State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis trusts women to make decisions about their own lives, and her record proves it. As I've said on this page recently, Davis is a leader with an unmatched courage of conviction -- and the qualifications to follow through. When she filibustered the Texas Senate this summer to block a restrictive anti-choice law (that her opponent supports, and parts of which have been struck down by a federal judge), it was one of many times she'd gone to bat for Texas women and families. Davis has worked for fairer funding for public education, to retain and create jobs, and to bring justice to rape victims -- and she got results.

Trick: Chris Christie says he is the candidate for New Jersey families
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is leading in the polls against challenger State Senator Barbara Buono, despite a record that looks much more like tricks than treats for New Jersey women and families. Consider this: He's anti-choice. He vetoed a raise to the minimum wage. He opposes universal pre-kindergarten. He vetoed equal pay legislation and cut funding for family planning.

Treat: Barbara Buono has a record of results fighting for families
Senator Buono co-sponsored and voted to increase the minimum wage; voted to allow Medicaid to cover family planning services; supported a program that would give loans to small businesses run by women and minorities; and co-sponsored a plan to extend family leave benefits.

Trick: Mitch McConnell says he is proud of his record on women and women's issues
Are you sure yours is a record to be proud of, Mr. Leader? Senator Mitch McConnell's record speaks for itself, alright. In the past few years alone, he voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. He voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act. And McConnell has been in office for nearly 30 years -- so there's plenty more where that came from.

When the McConnell campaign applauded itself for focusing on Kentucky women -- and their votes -- in a New York Times article this summer, it was a page from the pandering-to-women-when-you-need-them playbook . It's great that McConnell surrounds himself with strong, competent women professionally and personally. But that does not make him an advocate for all women. His votes tell a different story. Tricky, indeed.

Treat: Alison Lundergan Grimes is the woman who can "ditch Mitch"
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is in touch with what matters to voters -- she has a professional track record of expanding voting rights and access; helping small businesses succeed; and advocating for victims of domestic violence. She is a leader who will bring people together to get things done -- not one who will obstruct progress for partisanship's sake. That's what working for women really looks like.

We have real choices in these races -- do you want to go for the trick or the treat? These guys think they're pulling a fast one on voters, but it's clear to see who they are behind the mask.

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