With women’s issues making headlines in Virginia and throughout the country in this election year, President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign is taking steps to engage and mobilize women voters in the battleground state.
The campaign later this month will formally announce a Virginia “Women for Obama” effort that will be co-chaired by Lisa Collis, the wife of U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, and former state Del. Jean Cunningham of Richmond. A formal announcement will take place at an April 30 event in Northern Virginia.
Democrats are making a concerted effort to involve women voters in a year when issues such as abortion rights, insurance coverage for contraception, and equal pay have generated heated debates. In a Quinnipiac University poll conducted last month, women voters favored Obama over presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney by a margin of 52 percent to 39 percent.
In Virginia, a new political action committee called the Women’s Strike Force was formed after the General Assembly passed legislation requiring women to submit to an ultrasound procedure before having an abortion. The controversial legislation triggered protests at the state Capitol in Richmond and brought national media attention to the legislature and Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Obama’s campaign has been hitting Romney for declaring he would eliminate public funding for Planned Parenthood and for supporting a Senate amendment that would allow employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage in its employee insurance plans. Romney’s campaign has pushed back by arguing that women have suffered disproportionately under Obama’s economic policies
“Women’s votes are crucial in every election, but this year even more is at stake as we’ve seen Republicans go after our rights time and time again,” said Jennifer Kohl, the Virginia communications director for the Obama campaign. “While President Obama has been fighting to level the playing field for women and stand up for our rights, Mitt Romney and Bob McDonnell have been re-fighting cultural battles that ended decades ago and have championed policies that reduce our freedoms.”
The statewide Women for Obama group includes Victoria Cochran of Blacksburg.
“The choice for women in November could not be any clearer,” Cochran said. “President Obama has consistently been looking out for women young and old, whether through the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helps women fight for equal pay for equal work, or through championing historic health reform to provide us access to critical preventive care and keep insurance companies from charging us more than men for the same coverage.”