- Associated Press - Friday, October 30, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ann Romney arrived in Ohio’s capital Friday to help U.S. Sen. Rob Portman launch the women’s outreach component of his 2016 re-election campaign, touching off a debate over the standing of women in the state.

The wife of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was scheduled to appear at a luncheon at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus with Portman and his wife, Jane. The event marked the launch of Women for Portman, a group that will work to inform and engage women voters.

The group is led by Jane Portman, former Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson, former Ohio Attorney General and Auditor Betty Montgomery and Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor.

Democrats Ted Strickland, the former Ohio governor, and Cincinnati councilman P.G. Sittenfeld are vying for the chance to face Portman next fall.

As the Portman event was announced, Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus chairwoman Kathy DiCristofaro questioned the Cincinnati senator’s voting record on women’s issues.

“Whether it’s blocking Ohio women from earning a fair day’s pay, voting to defund breast cancer screenings or trying to control the private health care decisions women make for themselves and their families, Sen. Portman has voted time and time again with Washington special interests and against Ohio women,” she said.

The caucus issued a challenge to Portman to give back 23 percent of his $174,000 Senate paycheck, saying that would bring it on par with the 77 cents-on-the-dollar that the average Ohio woman earns as compared to the average Ohio man. That same challenge was lobbed at Strickland when he was governor.

“No one opposes equal pay for equal work,” said Portman campaign spokesman Corry Bliss. “The worst thing for Ohio women and families in recent history was having Ted Strickland as governor when Ohio lost over 350,000 jobs and ranked 48th in job creation.”

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