So desperate are Republicans to overcome Mitt Romney's huge gender gap among women that they will instantly seize any opening to drive a favorable story line and raise money. But these tactical maneuvers are not going to change the uncertainty that even many Republicans feel toward their presumed presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.
For voters, one of the underlying concerns with Romney is trust. He has shown a consistent pattern of changing positions on issues to gain support, or saying anything that he thinks will help him win, especially in negative campaign ads. He will not let the facts get in his way.
For instance, earlier this month Romney accused President Obama of waging a war on religion and even worse! "I think there is a desire to establish a religion in America known as secularism. And I know, based upon reports, that the Obama administration gave this a lot of thought." Well this charge is patently false, according to senior White House advisers. And it doesn't make any logical sense.
Romney is constantly spinning untruths about President Obama. "I was disappointed in listening to the president as he's saying, 'Oh Republicans are waging a war on women.'" But President Obama never said that. The former governor, who then continued, "The real war on women is being waged by the president's failed economic policies," fabricated it. Romney has charged that 92 percent of the job losses under Obama have been among women. This charge is misleading because it fails to count the millions of men who disproportionately lost their jobs in the last few months of the Bush presidency.
Distortion, negative campaigning and mendacity seem to be run of the mill for Governor Romney. His tactics and his campaign positions, including defunding Planned Parenthood, have so turned off women that their support of him is 19 percent less than it is for President Obama, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.
So Governor Romney and his campaign have been seizing every opportunity to strengthen his support among women by increasing Ann Romney's role. She has become his executive in charge of women. Governor Romney recently spoke about his wife on the Fox News Channel, "And she points out that as she talks to women, they tell her that their number one concern is the economy."
Comments like these are what Hilary Rosen was addressing on CNN when she clumsily set off the "mommy war." Rosen said, "What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues, and when I listen to my wife, that's what I am hearing. Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life." Ouch Hilary! Rosen continued, "She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and how do we worry -- and why we worry about their future. I think, yes, it's about these positions and, yes, I think there will be a war of words about the positions."
And a war of words there is! The Romney campaign saw an opening and jumped on it. "If you're a stay-at-home mom, the Democrats have a message for you: "you've never worked a day in your life," Romney's senior campaign adviser Beth Myers wrote in a fundraising email titled "War on Moms." No sooner had the Republicans begun their attack than the super sensitive Obama campaign tossed Rosen under the bus too! President Obama, Michelle Obama, advisers David Axelrod and Jim Messina all made comments critical of Rosen, who was once a Democratic strategist and has visited the Obama White House more than 30 times.
This dust-up is representative of the hyperbolical, 24/7, media crazed era we live in today. And it seems that Republicans are prone to characterize conflicts and policy differences in terms of war. For instance, Republicans accuse President Obama of waging "class warfare" against wealthy Americans because he has proposed increasing their tax rates.
President Obama's support of the "Buffett rule," which would have millionaires pay federal tax rates that are no less than their secretary's, has drawn extreme anger from conservatives. As an example, on Thursday Romney adviser and former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu called it, "a class warfare agenda that President Obama seems to be embarking on in this campaign." Republicans would rather cut tax rates for upper income earners and pay for deficit reductions with cuts in government programs that help low and middle income earners. This conservative fiscal strategy is known as "starve the beast."
Republicans also claim that increasing the top tax rates will hurt many small businesses and slow the nation's recovery. They call it a war on small business. And when it comes to regulating businesses, Mitt Romney's election website is filled with war-mongering. "The Obama administration's war on carbon dioxide -- what Time magazine has called "the most far-reaching environmental regulatory scheme in American history" -- is the highest-profile EPA effort." And on energy the website says, "As the Obama administration wages war against oil and coal, it has been spending billions of dollars on alternative energy forms and touting its creation of "green" jobs. But it seems to be operating more on faith than on fact-based economic calculation."
All this Republican talk of war is meant to deflect attention away from their number one problem: Mitt Romney. It is also meant to energize and mobilize the party's base. But conservatives see a flawed candidate -- who has held dubious positions on health care reform, abortion and gun control. So you can bet that Republican strategists are now busy behind closed doors feverishly drawing up their plans for Romney's 2012 campaign. Of course, using an Etch A Sketch.