- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 18, 2012

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are both ardent suitors of women who vote. In the last few weeks, Mr. Romney has edged out his rival, vaulting to front-runner status. The polls credit a surge among female voters in battleground states, and Mr. Obama will do almost anything to woo them back.

The political ground shook just before the second presidential debate with a USA Today/Gallup poll of likely female voters showing Mr. Romney neck and neck with the president in swing states. Mr. Obama had 49 percent and the former Massachusetts governor had 48. Statistically, that’s a draw. Mr. Romney’s gains with women pushed him over the top in those 12 battleground states, winning 50 percent of all voters, compared to Mr. Obama’s 46 percent.

This announcement so shocked the Obama campaign that it took aim at the messenger. Mr. Obama’s top pollster, Joel Benenson, sent reporters a desperate memo outlining why Gallup got it wrong. Mr. Benenson called the poll an “extreme outlier” and “deeply flawed.” He didn’t address the Oct. 8 Pew Research Center survey that found Mr. Obama had lost his 18-point lead among likely female voters, leaving the candidates tied at 47 percent in swing states.

The shift among women in Mr. Romney’s favor mirrored a dramatic increase in the public’s interest in dealing with the $16.2 trillion debt crisis. Fifty percent of women answering Gallup’s battleground survey said the issue was extremely important, up from 35 percent in March. The GOP presidential candidate seized on his new-found strength in the debate Tuesday, saying, “This is a president who has not been able to do what he said he’d do. He said that he’d cut in half the deficit. He hasn’t done that either. In fact, he doubled it.”

Without a positive record to run on, Mr. Obama fell back on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was supposed to help the fairer sex make more money. In reality, it just opens the floodgates to frivolous lawsuits. Mr. Obama thinks this — and running around the country promising free contraception, free abortions and making cracks about binders — is the key to winning back women.

It says a lot that the Obama camp has seized the binder line as if it were a major gaffe. When the newly elected governor of Massachusetts wanted to consider female candidates for top jobs, he wasn’t presented with any. Mr. Romney asked to see resumes from women who were as well-qualified as the men and was given “whole binders full of women.”

Though awkwardly worded in the debate, the facts are on Mr. Romney’s side. “Gov. Romney wasn’t just checking a box,” former Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey wrote on Wednesday. “He sought out our counsel, and he listened to our advice.”

For all his pandering, Mr. Obama’s record — by his own criteria — is that of a chauvinist. His vice president, chiefs of staff, press secretaries and 11 of 15 cabinet secretaries are men. In the statehouse, Mr. Romney’s chief of staff and half of his leadership team were women.

The real war on women is being waged by the Obama administration with policies that are simultaneously undermining the economy and traditional family values.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.