The female swing vote could be the key to who wins this Presidential election. In one of the most important elections of this century, a woman’s right to make to certain reproductive care decisions is once again a central and quite contentious issue. With the U.S. economy still teetering, Iran threatening nuclear action, health care reform up in the air, and most of Europe on the brink of economic disaster, women’s healthcare is the focus in these last days leading up to the election, in part thanks to Indiana Republican Senate candidate, Richard Mourdock.
Richard Mourdock came under fire this week, when he said during a televised debate, “Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, it is something that God intended to happen.” President Barack Obama immediately called on presidential candidate Mitt Romney to break any ties with Mourdock. Romney, who appears in a television advertisement declaring his support for Mourdock, has disavowed Mourdock’s comments according to the Associated Press, but his campaign says he continues to support the Indiana Republican’s Senate candidacy. And just this week, Romney refused to address the matter with reporters during a stop at a downtown diner in Cincinnati. Instead he is pushing hard to win the all important key state of Ohio.
Romney’s Republican comrades have not brushed the issue aside, and are instead choosing to address it. Republicans have come out in droves in support of their candidate while renouncing all ties with Mourdock, rebuking him for his statements. Florida Senator Rubio said during a speech in Milwaukee that Mourdock’s statement was “unfortunate.” Senator Scott Brown reacted to Mourdock’s rape comments with: “I’m a pro-choice Republican and that’s not what I believe. I disagree with what he said.” Mourdock did issue an apology on Wednesday for his comment saying he was “inarticulate” and people “mistook, twisted, came to misunderstand” that he believes life comes from God.
Senator McCain—also having endorsed Mourdock in the past—issued a statement through his communications director Brian Rogers. “Senator McCain is glad that Mr. Mourdock apologized to the people of Indiana and clarified his previous statement,” Rogers said. “Senator McCain hopes the people of Indiana will elect Mr. Mourdock to the U.S. Senate.”
But Matt Canter, communication director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said Republicans should denounce Mourdock. “Richard Mourdock refuses to apologize for his heinous views on rape,” Canter said in an e-mail. “Republicans across the country have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for their campaign coffers through joint committees with Mourdock. They should immediately condemn his offensive views and donate that money to charity.”
Obama continues to highlight the comments in an attempt to speak directly to the female voter as he travels the country on a multi-city tour. He said in an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams on “Rock Center” that, “…these attempts to redefine rape in some way make no sense to me. And I don’t think they make sense to a vast majority of women across the country. More broadly I think what these episodes point to is the fact that you don’t want politicians, a majority of them male, making a series of decisions about women’s health care issues. I am very confident about my track record when it comes to having confidence that women can make their own decisions…” And he continued, “I think that it’s important for women to have confidence that their President knows this is a set of decisions for them to make in consultation with their families, their clergy. It is not something that politicians need to get involved in.”
Although Obama has said it’s not something politicians should get involved in, women’s health care has taken the stage, front and center, and politicians on both sides are certainly involved. If women are listening, will they truly be swayed by the rhetoric on either side? Will Obama’s recent aggressive stance about Romney or his pejorative term “Romnesia” and his continuous focus on the rape comments, help, hurt or have no affect on the female swing vote? And will Romney’s decision to campaign in the key states only and avoid talking to reporters in these final days, help distance him from Mourdock to hold on to the female vote? The answer will be nothing if not historic and revealing on November 6th.