A few weeks ago, President Obama and his campaign team made it clear they have the advantage on hot-button, culture-war issues by launching a new ad, slamming Mitt Romney over his opposition to abortion rights. The spot was apparently successful enough to spur a sequel.
In this ad, viewers see a voter named Jenni arguing, "I've never felt this way before, but it's just a scary time to be a woman. Mitt Romney is so out of touch." A narrator walks through the Republican's policy positions, including opposition to contraception coverage as part of preventive care and support for overturning Roe v. Wade.
The spot also includes a controversial claim: "Romney backed a bill that outlaws all abortion, even in cases of rape and incest." It's the part of the ad that's generating the most pushback, and by way of a defense, the Obama campaign cites Romney comment from a debate in November, when he said he would be "delighted" to sign a bill returning abortion rights to the states if the Supreme Court struck down Roe.
It seems to me Romney's endorsement of a "Personhood" amendment would be more compelling proof, but so far, the president's team isn't making it.
While the facts obviously matter, and the Obama campaign has to be able to defend its arguments, it's nevertheless fair to say the differences between the candidates on reproductive rights is enormous, and I'm fascinated by the significance the president's team is placing on this. The campaign wouldn't put a spot like this together unless it knew the American mainstream agrees with the president's larger position.
Will the 2012 race be defined by the culture war? Almost certainly not. But there are still plenty of voters who care deeply about social issues, and who were outraged by the "war on women" agenda pushed by GOP officials for much of the year. Obama and his team clearly believe they have the upper hand on reproductive rights this year, and the fact that Democrats are on the offensive speaks volumes about the efficacy (or lack thereof) of the right's anti-choice, anti-contraception, anti-Planned Parenthood agenda of late.
Regardless, the ad started airing late last week in Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. It will start running in Colorado today.