Dem Convention With a Female Focus

National Journal Staff

The leaders of the two largest abortion rights groups in the country are among a slew of prominent women expected to escalate attacks on Republican nominee Mitt Romney over women’s issues in Charlotte next month.

A list of female speakers at the Democratic National Convention released on Wednesday includes Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund; Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America; Lily Ledbetter, the inspiration for the equal-pay law signed by President Obama; and Sandra Fluke, the then-Georgetown Law student insulted by conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh for advocating that health insurance cover contraception. 

The announcement comes as the Republican Party is facing a firestorm over Rep. Todd Akin's comments about “legitimate rape.” On Tuesday, Romney himself joined a bevy of prominent Republicans in urging Akin, the GOP nominee in Missouri’s Senate race against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill, to quit his bid. 

That same day, the Republican Platform Committee approved a strident antiabortion plank that did not include exceptions for rape or incest. Romney has said he supports those exceptions, but Democrats are using a broad brush to portray Romney and his party as out of touch with women.

While stopping short of designating a “Ladies Night” at the Charlotte convention,  the long lineup of female speakers fielded makes it clear that the Democratic Party is putting issues such as abortion, birth control, Planned Parenthood funding, and equal pay center stage.

However, the offensive aimed at peeling off female swing voters and exciting the party faithful may risk a convention that appears narrowly focused at a time when the economy is paramount in voters’ minds.

-- Beth Reinhard


Limited Convention Coverage Could Leave Ann Romney Off Air
[New York Times, 8/22/12] Feeling that this election lacks the drama of 2008 and that voters are fed up with the campaigns, NBC, ABC, and CBS will each air an hour of Republican National Convention coverage on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. Ann Romney’s 10:30 p.m. speech on Monday night will not be aired by the networks, angering Romney advisers, who are considering moving the speech.

Poll: Tied Race in Wisconsin After Ryan Pick
[National Journal, 8/22/12] Rep. Paul Ryan's ascendance to the Republican ticket as Mitt Romney's running mate has provided no significant home-state bump for the GOP team, according to a new poll of Wisconsin released on Wednesday. The poll, conducted by Marquette Law School, shows President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden leading Romney-Ryan, 49 percent to 46 percent — a virtual tie given the poll's margin of error.

Ryan Says Obama, Congress Ignoring Coming Fiscal Crisis NEW!
[National Journal, 8/22/12] RALEIGH, N.C. – Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan played the role of grim economic prophet on Wednesday, warning of an impending fiscal crisis in the United States that he said President Obama and Congress aren't trying to prevent because of the potential political consequences.

Ryan Grilled on Abortion and ‘Forcible Rape’
[National Journal, 8/22/12] ROANOKE, Va. – Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, in his first solo public statement about controversial comments made by Missouri Senate hopeful Todd Akin, called Akin’s comments “outrageous” in an interview with KDKA Pittsburgh. The staunchly antiabortion Ryan declined to explain the phrase "forcible rape," which appeared in a bill he co-sponsored with Akin.

Conversation Nation: Negative Talk About Obama Spikes 
[National Journal, 8/22/12] A new Conversation Nation poll suggests that as negative chatter about Obama spiked by 13 percentage points over the last week, positive word of mouth about Romney was on the rise. This is a troubling sign for a president who has stayed competitive in the race despite a sluggish economy in part because of his personal likability. 

Romney Pushes on With Discredited Welfare Attacks
[Associated Press, 8/22/12] The Romney campaign came out with yet another ad on Wednesday that attacks the president over welfare, claiming the Obama administration added more taxes to things like wheelchairs. AP writes that “aspects” of Romney’s welfare ads are “factually inaccurate.” CNN’s fact-checker came to a similar conclusion.

Tampa Mayor: Tropical Storm Isaac Could Force Cancellation, Delay, or Move
[Politico, 8/22/12] As Tropical Storm Isaac makes its way through the Gulf of Mexico on its way north to Florida, it could disrupt—or even force canceling—the Republican National Convention later this month, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a Democrat, said on Wednesday. As Slate’s Dave Weigel pointed out on Twitter, what did the RNC have in mind when it scheduled an August event in Florida?

Ryan Dodges Question on ‘Forcible Rape’ Language in House Bill
[The Hill, 8/22/12] Paul Ryan once cosponsored a bill in Congress that had language limiting federally funded abortions to only cases of “forcible rape.” While questioned on the difference between that and other rape, he responded on Wednesday, “Rape is rape, and there’s no splitting hairs over rape.”

How Romney Does Digital
[National Journal, 8/22/12] The raw numbers lean Obama’s way: He has more than 27 million “likes” on his Facebook page, versus fewer than 5 million for Romney. But the head of Romney’s digital operation says the GOP candidate’s followers are more likely to share information, post, and spread the word. 

Akin Says Ryan Urged Him To Quit Senate Race
[USA Today, 8/22/12] Akin confirmed on Wednesday morning that Romney's newly minted VP pick Ryan, with whom he has cosponsored legislation on abortion, called him to urge him to step down. Akin did concede that he will not attend the Republican National Convention. 

The Post Reads the New Obama Book So You Don’t Have To
[Washington Post, 8/22/12] The new Politico e-book, Obama’s Last Stand, has been making the rounds this week, but what are the major takeaways? Apparently, Obama has “genuine disdain” for Romney. Also: the campaign's relationship with DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is uneasy.

Patients Would Pay More Under Romney Plan, Analysts Say
[New York Times, 8/21/12] Experts say restoring the $716 billion Romney claims Obama “robbed” from Medicare would hasten the insolvency of the program by eight years.

New Obama Ad Criticizes Romney on Education
[National Journal, 8/22/12] As the president takes a two-day campaign tour through Ohio and Nevada to push his education policy, the Obama camp released a new TV ad on Wednesday that accuses Romney of being out of touch with average American families.

Ron Paul, GOP Reach Deal on Delegates
[New York Times, 8/21/12] Clearing the way for a harmonious convention to nominate Romney next week in Tampa, Ron Paul has agreed to seat 17 additional Paul delegates from Louisiana, as well as three additional delegates and two alternates from Massachusetts. Newt Gingrich also released his delegates to Romney on Wednesday.

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