Obama, Romney woo female voters, Louisville women not swayed


by Joe Arnold


Posted on October 17, 2012 at 6:25 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 18 at 12:07 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- The effort to sway women voters during Tuesday night's presidential debate did not particularly impress female Louisville voters interviewed on Wednesday.

"I guess there a lot of us and that's why they say they have to go after the women," said Barbara Haller.

"I didn't feel that they were - per se - reaching out to directly towards women," added Monica Echols, "but I do feel like former Governor (Mitt) Romney - I think he was very straight to the point and trying to nail his topics.  But I didn't feel swayed as a woman, just as a voter."

Romney and President Barack Obama were trying to rally support from both their own bases and from undecided women voters.  Women are the majority of voters and in the past month polls show that female swing voters are willing to change their minds.  With polls showing Romney gaining support from women after the first debate, Obama attacked him on equal pay, contraception and abortion.

Obama mentioned Planned Parenthood five times during the debate.

"There are millions of women all across the country, who rely on Planned Parenthood for, not just contraceptive care, they rely on it for mammograms, for cervical cancer screenings," Obama said.

Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms.

"This is not just a women's issue," Obama said after a question about gender inequity.  "This is a family issue. This is a middle-class issue. And that's why we've got to fight for it."

Romney stressed his record as Massachusetts governor of hiring women in high positions -- and accommodating work schedules for working mothers.

"I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible," Romney said.  "My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school.  She said, 'I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night.'"

Romney's attempt to boost his hiring record may have backfired - however - when he described his administration's efforts to recruit women candidates for key positions.

"I went to a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks. And they brought us whole binders full of women."

The "binders full of women" comment went viral during the debate, inspiring parody websites and consternation from Obama supporters.

"How can you be a businessman in this day and age and not already have contact with a whole lot of women who are appropriate to be in those kind of positions?" said Christine White of Louisville.

"I'd rather know what their policies are," Haller said.  "and I don't care whether I am a woman or not as far as that goes."

The aggressive nature of the debate did not bother the voters interviewed by WHAS11.

It was squabbling, interrupting, aggressive -- and for supporters of President Obama, it was about time.

"I was glad to see he had some fire in his eyes last night," said Brian Black.

"I think you have to," said Laurie Rafferty.  "I think that if you don't agree with somebody -- I don't think it's possible to not be combative in that situation."

It wasn't just what the candidates said -- it was their physical proximity.

"It did look like they were in a boxing ring," Echols said, "circling each other - ready to spar."

Newspaper headlines of debate coverage Wednesday morning could have been from a boxing match --

"Both point fingers, each scores points" - The Denver Post

"They came out fighting" - New Hampshire Union Leader

"Obama goes on attack, Romney strikes back" - The Detroit News

"Head to Head Combat" - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

"Last night all bets were off and so were the gloves," Black said.
The heated rhetoric and "fighting words" are a far cry from the call for political civility after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords last year. 

"I think the lack of civility is the way things happen today, unfortunately," Black added.

"They were aggressive," Haller said, "but that didn't bother me as much as watching the Vice-President's interrupting and having that silly smile" at last week's Centre College debate.

As for all that crosstalk and interrupting, Hallar - a Romney supporter - has a solution that would apply to both candidates.

"The moderator should cut off the mic when their time is up," she said.  "If they give them two minutes, cut it off."