Contributor Post Created with Sketch. How to Combat the “War on Women” Narrative

 

Some Republican insiders are likely patting themselves on the back today, as news broke Thursday that the GOP is training male candidates on how to speak to women. Eager to avoid another Todd Akin “legitimate rape” situation, the GOP is (at last) trying to get a hold of a real, problem reaching women voters. It’s certainly a step in the right direction; however, shrinking the gender gap and getting more women to value limited government is going to take more than polite talk.

The hideous comments made by Akin and others during the 2012 election cycle didn’t help anything; but they became front page news because of the GOP’s general disconnect with – if not disregard for – women voters.

If the GOP hopes to win back women – and in 2010 the GOP closed the gender gap for the first time in two decades, setting off the “War on Women” narrative – they need to embrace gender differences and be prepared to respond to a robust Progressive “women’s agenda,” which includes universal pre-K, increasing the minimum wage, expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.

I’m fairly confident most Republican candidates are not yet prepared to respond to these proposals – you’ll recall Gov. Romney tripping up terribly when asked about Lilly Ledbetter during the campaign – nor do they have a positive vision to put forth to women.

Bottom line: Republicans don’t just need etiquette training. They need to fundamentally understand and be able to communicate on a range of issues concerning women.

Take mandated leave time: If anyone values time off, it’s a working mother. She may need time off to have a baby, to attend to a sick child, or to care for an aging parent. The problem is that the FMLA – and Sen. Gillibrand’s proposed expansion – has serious problems. Contrary to what Democrats would have you believe, expanding FMLA creates inflexibility in the workplace and actually limits worker’s options.

But the GOP needs to say much more – it can’t just be the party of no. Discrimination exists and time off is necessary, but government is not best equipped to solve the problem. And trying to do so will ultimately hurt the economy, result in fewer jobs, generate more lawsuits, and create less flexibility for all workers. They might emphasize that businesses have an interest in creating fair workplace standards and that women – who are now outpacing men educationally and make up nearly 50 percent of the workforce – are an extremely valuable part of the labor market. (Also see experimental research related to the Paycheck Fairness Act here.)

Republicans should also consider that the message that moves a man on an issue is not alway the one that moves a woman. The Independent Women’s Voice conducted research on our serious national debt problem. A message focused on reforming entitlements was effective with women, while a message focused on spending increased support for broad budget constraints among both men and women.

Teaching candidates not to say stupid things might keep them out of the fire; but they need to do much more than simply avoid devastating gaffes. The GOP doesn’t have to sugar-coat things or use lavender print on all their mailings to reach women; but they do need to consider how men and women are different, and make use of the policies, messages, and messengers that they know appeal to women. That also means doing the kind of rigorous research the left has been engaged in for years in order to discover which tactics are most effective.

[Shameless plug: One group is trying to do this right now. The Independent Women’s Forum has launched an end-of-the-year campaign to push back on the War on Women narrative and change the conversation.]

There are 62 comments.

  1. Probable Cause Inactive

    Agreed. The best defense is a good offense.

    I’ve noodled on the best answer to the question “what about rape and incest?”. Try this one on for size:

    Are aborting the child or raising the child of a rapist the only two options? I favor allowing a woman to arm herself as she sees fit, according to her comfort level and training, so that she can prevent the rape to begin with. If I may be so bold, I think a woman should have a right to abort the rapist. My opponent, with his extreme gun control positions, seems to favor leaving all women defenseless…

    • #1
    • December 7, 2013, at 2:06 AM PST
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  2. ljt Inactive
    ljt

    And how about turning every “abortion question” which invariably involves rape or incest to a late-term abortion question? you know , like “well however you feel about abortion, I feel strongly that it is inhumane to crush the skull of a child who is capable of feeling pain and recognizing its mother’s voice and I stand by that”.

    Family leave – “But aren’t you worried that women in their childbearing years may have trouble finding employment like in Europe?”

    Or every gay marriage question into a religious freedom question. And if they try to bring the conversation back, refuse : “well we can’t discuss that until we can decide whether a small business does or doesn’t HAVE to break its moral code” – analogies with PETA and a butcher’s shop etc. Or even the cost to the public to pay for sex changes… etc etc

    • #2
    • December 7, 2013, at 2:41 AM PST
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  3. Probable Cause Inactive

    I got a couple likes, which unfortunately only encourages me. Think about how this continues…

    George Snuffleupagus: (caught off guard) Certainly a woman doesn’t need an assault rifle?

    GOP candidate: Well, George, who are you to tell a woman how to defend her own body? I believe in a woman’s right to choose a firearm that’s right for her.

    • #3
    • December 7, 2013, at 2:48 AM PST
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  4. Merina Smith Inactive

    After the Obamacare debacle, women, and everyone else, will hopefully be ready to acknowledge that EVERYONE paying for birth control, maternity and the like is not such a good idea. If you don’t need it in your policy, it shouldn’t be there. The GOP should also work hard to recruit and support more women candidates.

    • #4
    • December 7, 2013, at 2:56 AM PST
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  5. iDad Inactive

    You know what else would help? People who profess to be concerned about the GOP’s “woman problem” not repeating leftist distortions about Todd Akin. 

     

    • #5
    • December 7, 2013, at 3:00 AM PST
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  6. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Why do we reach back to agonize over yesterday’s news when the opposition is sounding like this:

    “The Middle East is obviously an issue that has plagued the region for centuries.”

    “UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems.” (Making the case FOR the Abominable Care Act.)

    “The reforms we seek would bring greater competition, choice, savings and inefficiencies to our health care system.”

    “What I was suggesting — you’re absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith…”

    “Let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s. It will be a strong friend of Israel’s under a McCain…administration. It will be a strong friend of Israel’s under an Obama administration. So that policy is not going to change.”

    “I’ve now been in 57 states — I think one left to go.”

    “In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died — an entire town destroyed.” –on a Kansas tornado that killed 12 people

    If that’s a president, then Akin was overqualified.

    • #6
    • December 7, 2013, at 3:25 AM PST
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  7. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Making this kind of over the top effort just creates one more opportunity for a few news cycles on clueless Republicans. And deservedly so.

    The women the GOP has lost are the unmarried ones looking to Fluke their way through life and needing financial support to pull it off. No sane person on a common income would spend $1000 of their own money on designer contraception! Not even a deductible!!! Can’t imagine why those premiums are causing coast to coast sticker shock.

    • #7
    • December 7, 2013, at 3:32 AM PST
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  8. Nick Stuart Inactive

    National GOP groups like the RNC, RSCC &tc should only support candidates who have worked out coherent answers to the “gotcha” questions they must know they’re going to be asked: abortion, same sex marriage, etc. Their answers can be whatever best reflects their positions, but they need to be practiced and coherent. They can’t just run off at the mouth like Akin (I saw the Akin gaffe re-run on CNN yesterday, and yes, he did just run off at the mouth).

    And speaking of Akin, look for that clip to be run ad infinitum whether any 2014/2016 GOP candidate makes a gaffe or not. 

    Along with “binders full of women.” Which was a perfectly reasonable thing to say, said in a reasonable manner, which the Left grabbed and spun up into a gaffe nothwithstanding.

    • #8
    • December 7, 2013, at 3:40 AM PST
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  9. D.C. McAllister Inactive

    A couple of points. The 2010 election was not a big pushback on the war on women. Single women simply didn’t show up as they did in 2008 and 2012. The Democrats don’t have an across-the-board advantage when it comes to women in general. The GOP has married women, but the Democrats have single women. The problem for the GOP is that married women are a shrinking demographic. Singles are growing by leaps and bounds. Given this fact, before you can even start thinking about all the policies you want to get behind as far as a campaign goes, you need to think about which women exactly are you targeting. 

    Secondly, among the group of single women who are likely votes and likely supporters–the group the GOP can actually hope to “get” in the upcoming elections, these women don’t have a lot of confidence that the government can do anything for them (not the Dems and not the GOP). And, Gallup showed in the last election that social issues (abortion) were top of the list among their concerns. They were swayed by the war on women/social issue narrative even as they said contd.

    • #9
    • December 7, 2013, at 4:00 AM PST
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  10. Jim Lion Inactive

    It’s not a gender gap, it’s an unmarried woman gap. These voters tend to prefer candidates who advocate increasing the nanny state. The GOP will lose more than it gains by trying to appeal to them with more nanny-state laws.

    • #10
    • December 7, 2013, at 4:02 AM PST
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  11. D.C. McAllister Inactive

    jobs were a big concern. They worry about putting food on the table for their kids, but when they become convinced that the GOP wants to take away women’s birth control, they vote for the democrat. That narrative must be challenged and redirected. The candidates have to be able to make personal connections with these women—not just policy promises.

    Trust needs to be rebuilt between these women and the GOP. They need to see Republicans as people who believe in them, who support them and respect them in their desire to live their lives the way they want to. We need to communicate to them in a way that says, “I believe in you. I support you. I respect you.” They don’t need to hear “This is what the GOP can do for you.” They won’t believe it.

    • #11
    • December 7, 2013, at 4:05 AM PST
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  12. Probable Cause Inactive

    Bowing to reality now, let’s say a full throated defense of the 2nd Amendment isn’t right for a particular district. Then the death penalty is your best friend.

    GOP candidate: Well, George, if a woman is out and about, minding her own business, and some thug assaults her and rapes her, then I think that thug deserves the death penalty. My opponent, on the other hand, seems to think that the death penalty should never be used. I disagree. A violent and cruel act like that against a woman deserves justice. I think we’ve become far too complacent about assault and rape, as if we can’t do anything about it and we just have to accept it. Maybe if we punished these criminals more vigorously, that might deter rapists in the future.

    • #12
    • December 7, 2013, at 4:11 AM PST
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  13. D.C. McAllister Inactive

    Sabrina, I agree with your approach to combating the war on women narrative (something I’m passionate about), but it needs to be broader–and more personal–than just what policies we can put in place so the GOP can show women what a conservative government can do for them—though, like I said above, some of those elements are needed in a campaign platform of course.

    We need the right candidates, we need our own campaign to answer directly and forcefully the lies of the left every time they’re expressed, we need to educate women about why they don’t need to depend on government (a government some in the targeted group of single women don’t really trust anyway), we need to connect with women on a personal level to build trust, and we need to show how freedom empowers women. This is what the GOP can do for them–make them more free, give them more peace in their lives, and offer hope for the future by getting out of their way so they can have the job they want or stay home if they want–so they can be the women they want to be.

    • #13
    • December 7, 2013, at 4:28 AM PST
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  14. Sandy Inactive
    D.C. McAllister: A couple of points. The 2010 election was not a big pushback on the war on women. Single women simply didn’t show up as they did in 2008 and 2012. The Democrats don’t have an across-the-board advantage when it comes to women in general. The GOP has married women, but the Democrats have single women. The problem for the GOP is that married women are a shrinking demographic. Singles are growing by leaps and bounds. Given this fact, before you can even start thinking about all the policies you want to get behind as far as a campaign goes, you need to think about which women exactly are you targeting. 

    Do these single women want to get married? I’ve given up on knowing the answer to that, but assuming many of them do, how about promoting policies that help that endangered species, the American boy, so that there is a greater chance he will grow up to be a good American man and husband? Publicly praising fatherhood might help. Also suspending rowdy kids on a school bus, not the policemen trying to do their jobs.

    • #14
    • December 7, 2013, at 4:30 AM PST
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  15. D.C. McAllister Inactive
    Sandy
    D.C. McAllister: A couple of points. The 2010 election was not a big pushback on the war on women. Single women simply didn’t show up as they did in 2008 and 2012. The Democrats don’t have an across-the-board advantage when it comes to women in general. The GOP has married women, but the Democrats have single women. 

    Do these single women want to get married? I’ve given up on knowing the answer to that, but assuming many of them do, how about promoting policies that help that endangered species, the American boy, so that there is a greater chance he will grow up to be a good American man and husband? Publicly praising fatherhood might help. Also suspending rowdy kids on a school bus, not the policemen trying to do their jobs. · 13 minutes ago

    Actually they do. The difference between in the past and today, though, is that women want to wait. Children are also not tied to marriage, so they are not compelled to get married young. When polled, however, many of these singles say they want to get married, but it’s no longer out of necessity contd.

    • #15
    • December 7, 2013, at 4:45 AM PST
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  16. D.C. McAllister Inactive

    they want to marry for love. The problem is they’re having a hard time finding the “right” men when they want them (later in life). I think there’s a lot of cultural aspects to why they can’t find worthy men and part of it has to do with men not being needed in the marriage. Women are supporting themselves, they are raising children alone, and even though they say they want to get married, because they’re doing it for love, the man is somewhat reduced in his role within the marriage. This weakens the man, in my opinion. I’m not saying that women need to be financially dependent on men, but when you remove all the traditional roles of what makes a man a man in a marriage and he just kinda becomes a glorified friend, then it’s hard to find that man. Some women do, and some women are satisfied with the man they find in their late 30s. But many women aren’t finding the man they want. (you know, I should write a post about this.)

    • #16
    • December 7, 2013, at 4:49 AM PST
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  17. D.C. McAllister Inactive

    Sandy, I think the stat is something like one-third of American women are unmarried. But they’re not sitting around waiting to get married even though they do want to get married one day. They are working and dating, and some are even having kids. It’s no longer first comes love, second comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage. It’s now First comes career, second comes baby (or the other way around, and then comes love if you can find Mr. Right later on–a Mr. Right you don’t really need because you’re self-sufficient in every way. 

    However, an interesting poll from 2004 (I believe) found that when singles were asked why they weren’t married, the number one reason was because they hadn’t found the right person. They were also most concerned about getting married because they didn’t want to be lonely–but not now, when they’re young (because they have a lot of friends) but because they don’t want to be lonely when they’re older.

    • #17
    • December 7, 2013, at 4:56 AM PST
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  18. She Thatcher
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Republicans should not forget, in their eagerness to chase down the demographic du jour, that voters have short memories.

    Thus, the recent Washington Post/ABC poll (of registered voters, I think) showing that Mitt Romney would win an election against Barack Obama, were it to be held today.

    Several numbers are now upside-down for Obama, including personal favorability (46/53, trustworthiness (47/50), strong leadership (46/53), empathy (47/51) and competent management (41/56).

    It does me wonder if many of those who were so sure that Obama was the coolest, most caring guy ever, have begun to have second thoughts.

    I believe that this shift in public opinion has happened with no appreciable Republican outreach to Hispanics or women.

    • #18
    • December 7, 2013, at 5:28 AM PST
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  19. Mike K Inactive
    She:

    It does me wonder if many of those who were so sure that Obama was the coolest, most caring guy ever, have begun to have second thoughts.

    I believe that this shift in public opinion has happened with no appreciable Republican outreach to Hispanics or women. · 1 minute ago

    I cannot express how tired I am of the constant worry by politicians about how to appeal to women. Women should be concerned about the same issues men are.

    “Women’s issues” are an example of pandering and infantilization of women. I admit I am fully prepared to see the country go to hell in a handbasket and believe we are probably beyond stopping it. The last chance was a year ago.

    • #19
    • December 7, 2013, at 5:40 AM PST
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  20. D.C. McAllister Inactive

    She—yes the numbers have shifted, but we’re not in a campaign. That’s a whole different story. Sabrina is suggesting a plan for a campaign strategy, which is legitimate considering past elections and the growing demographic of single women. I’m not for identity politics, but it doesn’t hurt to plan how to deal with certain groups. But precisely because I’m not for identity politics, I’m not a big supporter of creating new policy and new laws and regulations to secure a group. I think you can do a lot with a great big tent message and smart micro-targeting and advertising that speaks to certain groups. You also need strong counter-messaging that neutralizes and/or defeats attacks when they come from the libs.

    • #20
    • December 7, 2013, at 5:52 AM PST
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  21. D.C. McAllister Inactive

    Mike K–I understand your point, but women don’t have the same concerns as men and we need to be realistic about it. Plus, like it or not, the Dems are targeting singles women directly with their various targeted messaging (Julia, the Dunham and vote like your lady parts depend on it) so we have to be ready to answer it. Think of it like a game of chess.

    • #21
    • December 7, 2013, at 5:56 AM PST
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  22. Sandy Inactive
    D.C. McAllister: I think there also needs to be personal connections made, better communication, trust rebuilt, love shown, and stories shared. Conservative women aren’t any different from liberal women. We know hardship, we know trial, and we hope for a better future for ourselves and our children. But as conservatives, we know it can’t come from government. That’s the difference. We know what it means to be free, and I want all women to know that and to vote accordingly. · 8 hours ago

    I take your point, but in the context of a campaign, how do you propose to do this beyond the limits of advertising? “Personal connections” and “love” require more intimacy than is possible in a campaign, no? Perhaps our sex would respond better to really strong, tough-minded male and female candidates. Is that not where Ken Cuccinelli fell down, i.e., in responding weakly to McAuliffe? What woman doesn’t like a self-confident man, tough man who refuses to take attacks lying down? Oh, and please, a sense of humor. If we are talking about female voters, tough and humorous wins.

    • #22
    • December 7, 2013, at 6:08 AM PST
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  23. D.C. McAllister Inactive
    DocJay: Sabrina, social conservatism is shrinking and libertarian conservatism ( and liberal libertarianism ) is increasing. Appeal to that crowd . People don’t like being spied on and people don’t like crooks lying to them. As far as special this and that for females, well, horse cookies to that. I like equality and not government priveledges. Of course, it doesn’t matter anyway as collapse is inevitable. When that happens, you just might need someone with a gun to have your back. Guns make men and women real equal. No guns make women rape victims. · 6 hours ago

    Libertarian conservatism is definitely more the way to go–and trust is huge. Show women that they can’t trust the Democrats and you will have significant gains in that demographic. Benghazi, the NSA, the Obamacare Big Lie—all of those need to be driven home relentlessly. This was a chance Romney had with Benghazi but he backed off and abandoned the issue because the press lied for Obama. Romney didn’t come up with a way to counter that.

    • #23
    • December 7, 2013, at 6:34 AM PST
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  24. D.C. McAllister Inactive
    Sandy
    D.C. McAllister: I think there also needs to be personal connections made, better communication, trust rebuilt, love shown, and stories shared. 

    I take your point, but in the context of a campaign, how do you propose to do this beyond the limits of advertising? “Personal connections” and “love” require more intimacy than is possible in a campaign, no? Perhaps our sex would respond better to really strong, tough-minded male and female candidates. Is that not where Ken Cuccinelli fell down, i.e., in responding weakly to McAuliffe? What woman doesn’t like a self-confident man, tough man who refuses to take attacks lying down? Oh, and please, a sense of humor. If we are talking about female voters, tough and humorous wins. · 26 minutes ago

    Everything you’ve said is true, and you ask a great question. First, when I mention personal connections and even a sense of love communicated, which really amounts to respect, I’m talking about part of the campaign, not all of it. There are many prongs to a campaign and being tough, humorous, and developing strong countermessaging is a huge prong that was used in 2012. contd.

    • #24
    • December 7, 2013, at 6:38 AM PST
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  25. D.C. McAllister Inactive

    But there is a power to a campaign that makes personal connections with people in an intimate way. This was done constantly in the war on women, the Julia story, as much as we hate it, was a personal, emotional story that women connected to. Think of all the ads the Dems did during that election that involved closeups of women telling their stories about needing their birth control, wanting their freedom to choose, and loving Barak Obama because he was like a boyfriend you’d have sex with. All of that was very personal, very intimate–and it connected with women. Of course, it was infuriating and seedy and all of that, but it was a bridge women related to because that’s how they communicate. We need to communicate in the same way but with a different, better message. 

    • #25
    • December 7, 2013, at 6:43 AM PST
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  26. Rubysue Inactive

    I am beyond tired of this topic. I am a married woman, with no children and an engineering background, and am in my late fifties. I really resent the whining “special needs” of women, particularly when it comes to the crucial issues of our time. It makes no difference if we pander to the little things, like endorsing enhanced family leave or worrying about our language around abortion and birth control or obsessing over how to win over soccer Moms. Iran will have nuclear weapon capability soon, to match the insane prospect of North Korea and Pakistan wielding WMD and there is the problem of proliferation to other “rational” Islamic states. China and Russia have seen the weakness in our leadership and are making their moves. The progressives want to control every minute of our lives, unless it is associated with uncontrolled sex and high-inducing drugs (how prophetic, Aldous Huxley). We will be taxed and tracked as serfs and subject to more and more intrusive, petty bovine excrement, Christianity is the enemy of the state, as are those folks who want freedom and limited government. If women want to obsess over the trivial, that is so sad.

    • #26
    • December 7, 2013, at 6:51 AM PST
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  27. She Thatcher
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    As D.C. says, the ‘birth control narrative [has] won the day,’ (I’m not sure which election she was referring to, if any), and in the post she wrote, pre-Cuccinelli’s loss, she points out why:

    [McAuliffe’s ad] shows grainy footage of Cuccinelli talking about abortion to a Christian group in which he says, “Given that God does judge nations, it’s amazing that abortion has run as far and foully as it has without what I would consider to be a greater imposition of judgment on this country.” . . . This, more than anything the Tea Party has done, will secure Cuccinelli’s defeat.

    If I read her previous post correctly, I think DC’s point was that McAuliffe’s tactic was to use Cuccinelli’s actual words to ‘gin up’ the war on women, rather than to make the point that Cuccinelli may have said a ‘stupid thing’ that perhaps he should not have.

    While I agree with Sabrina Schaeffer that ‘teaching candidates not to say stupid things,’ isn’t the be-all and end all, teaching candidates not to say things stupidly might be an excellent start.

    But perhaps that is too much to ask.

    • #27
    • December 7, 2013, at 7:06 AM PST
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  28. Profile Photo Member

    Comment of the month, in my opinion.

    Rubysue: I am beyond tired of this topic…

    Edited 28 minutes ago

    • #28
    • December 7, 2013, at 7:24 AM PST
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  29. D.C. McAllister Inactive
    She: 

    If I read her previous post correctly, I think DC’s point was that McAuliffe’s tactic was to use Cuccinelli’s actual words to ‘gin up’ the war on women, rather than to make the point that Cuccinelli may have said a ‘stupid thing’ that perhaps he should not have.

    While I agree with Sabrina Schaeffer that ‘teaching candidates not to say stupid things,’ isn’t the be-all and end all, teaching candidates not to say things stupidly might be an excellent start.

    But perhaps that is too much to ask. 

    I know exactly what you’re saying and your analysis is correct. Cuccinelli had opened himself up to that criticism. But, I do have to say, that he would have been attacked simply on the basis of the legislation he supported, and I’m not for telling all governors (my governor included who is cracking down on abortion clinics to make sure another Gosnell doesn’t happen) or attorneys general to stop all anti-abortion initiatives. It’s gotten to the point that even if you breathe a word that you’re prolife, you’ll be turned into a hater of women. contd.

    • #29
    • December 7, 2013, at 7:29 AM PST
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  30. D.C. McAllister Inactive

    Look at what happened to Romney. So, what do we do about it when a) we’re going to be slammed over the social issues no matter what we say; b) someone will eventually say something stupid–we’re human; c) even if what we say isn’t stupid, it will be characterized that way; and b) we do stand for life, there is legislation out there, and there is already a history of prolife actions among many qualified candidates that could be potentially used against them.

    We fight this by strongly and forcefully (and even humorously) exposing the lies and manipulations of the left. But we also do two other things simultaneously, first, we continue to expose how Democrats are against liberty on bigger, broader issues that appeal to everyone (Obamacare, the scandals), and we rebuild trust through a marketing campaign that is personal and connects with women (I do know how squishy that sounds, but if you read my comment above, you will realize that this is a must do, especially we run about Hillary, which is really running against Bill, who is the King Connector to women—as creepy as that is to some of us.)

    • #30
    • December 7, 2013, at 7:33 AM PST
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