A flight of recent polling has suggested that Mitt Romney and the GOP have a “women problem,” losing support among half the voting population in swing states at a dramatic pace.
Asked about the issue in a Newsmax interview yesterday, Mitt Romney not only acknowledged the existence of the problem, but also accepted that the recent debate over contraception caused it. But don’t worry, Romney said, just wait until voters see “our real position,” as Democrats have “distorted” the debate:
ROMNEY: But there’s no question that over the past several weeks, that a discussion about religious liberty was distorted into a discussion about contraceptives. And there was the somehow Republicans are opposed to contraceptives. I think it was most unfortunate twist by our Democrat friends. I think this will pass as an issue as people understand our real position.
I, for instance, have made it clear that I do not oppose contraceptives. But the women that I speak with, and the women that my wife speaks with, tell her that their number one issue is the economy.
When Republicans decided to start a political controversy over the Obama administration’s ruling that all insurance companies should provide coverage for birth control, many on the left warned it would backfire. Indeed, polling seems to bear that out. But conservatives have denied the significance of the contraception debate, and even the existence of gender problem at all, as RNC Chairman Reince Priebus infamously did this morning.
So it’s notable that Romney seemed to agree that not only is there a gender problem, but the contraception debate started it.
And his comment about revealing “our real position” doesn’t look good coming from someone who’s known to change his positions, and is expected to do as he pivots to the general election, especially on women’s issues.
Meanwhile, Romney claims the economy is the top issue with women, but that may not be true. As the Atlantic’s Molly Ball points out, a recent USA Today swing state poll found that health care was women’s number one issue, while men’s was the debt and deficit. (Those economic issues came in at number four for women.) Since health care is not exactly Romney’s best issue, he has an interest in pretending women don’t care about it or, for that matter, about contraception, as his surrogate, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), said.