DELAWARE, Ohio — With President Obama losing his advantage among female voters, his campaign aides Wednesday resurrected attacks on Mitt Romney over abortion and women’s rights, claiming the Republican nominee is hiding his true positions.
Mr. Romney is pro-life but doesn’t emphasize his position on the campaign trail, preferring to focus on economic issues. The swiftness of the Obama campaign’s attack, calling in Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards to criticize Mr. Romney, underscored the concern in the president’s camp about the shifting attitudes of female voters since the first presidential debate on Oct. 3, in which the president performed poorly.
Viewers of the debate rated Mr. Romney as the undisputed winner, and even some single women, who make up a key part of the president’s support, favored the Republican. A month ago, Mr. Obama enjoyed an 18-point advantage over Mr. Romney among female voters in a Pew Research Center poll, 56 percent to 38 percent. But in a Pew survey conducted after the debate, Mr. Obama’s lead among women had evaporated, with the candidates tied at 47 percent in the eyes of female voters.
Given those developments in the past week, the president’s surrogates seized Wednesday on a comment that Mr. Romney gave in an interview with the Des Moines Register, in which he said “there’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.”
“We’re not saying that he’s changed his mind on these issues,” said deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter. “We’re saying he’s trying to cover up his beliefs. Women simply cannot trust Mitt Romney.”
Ms. Richards accused Mr. Romney of hiding his positions on abortion. “This isn’t about flip-flopping; this is about distancing himself from positions he’s taken repeatedly,” she told reporters in a conference call arranged by the Obama campaign.
Ms. Richards said she has taken a temporary leave from Planned Parenthood to campaign for the president’s re-election.
At a campaign stop in Delaware, Ohio, on Wednesday, Mr. Romney defended his remarks in the Des Moines newspaper and said he hasn’t changed his stance.
“I think I’ve said time and again, I’m a pro-life candidate,” Mr. Romney said. “I’ll be a pro-life president. The actions I’ll take immediately are to remove funding for Planned Parenthood. It will not be part of my budget. And also I’ve indicated I’ll reverse the Mexico City position of the president. I will reinstate the Mexico City Policy.”
The Mexico City Policy, initiated by President Reagan in 1984, bans federal funds from being used by private groups to pay for abortions. Mr. Obama rescinded the policy within days of taking office.
The president also weighed in Wednesday, telling ABC News’ Diane Sawyer that his opponent’s interview in the Des Moines paper “is another example of Gov. Romney hiding positions he’s been campaigning on for a year and a half.”
“Is it a lie?” Ms. Sawyer asked.
“No, I actually think … when it comes to women’s rights to control their own health care decisions, you know, what he has been saying is exactly what he believes,” Mr. Obama said. “[Mr. Romney] thinks that it is appropriate for politicians to inject themselves in those decisions.”
Romney: No changes