A recent presidential poll shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney still has a lot of work to do to win the support of women in Virginia.
Enter Virginia’s “Women for Romney” – a newly formed group attempting to channel
Fittingly the group held an event Thursday at a women’s boutique in a newly-built shopping mall in Hanover County — the predominantly Republican Richmond suburb where Romney is scheduled to stop Saturday as part of his bus tour of swing states leading up to the GOP convention in Tampa Florida Aug. 27.
Del. Barbara Comstock, R-Fairfax, said women have lost more than 400,000 jobs since Barack Obama became president.
“Obama isn’t working, and we need to make a change,’ she told a group of roughly two dozen women gathered at the Ruby Slipper Boutique. Roughly half of the attendees had some direct connection to the Hanover Republican Party or the campaigns of Romney and GOP U.S. Senate candidate George Allen, or Rep. Eric Cantor, R-7th.
The group also heard from Jean Ann Bolling, wife of Lt. Gov. Bill Bollling, the 2013 gubernatorial candidate and chairman of Romney’s campaign in Virginia. “Women are going to be crucial to getting Mitt Romney elected,” she said.
Right now, Republicans could use more of them. Romney trails Obama among women voters in Virginia 54-40 percent, according to a new Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll released earlier this week. Overall the president holds a 49-45 edge over Romney.
Previous polls indicate Romney fares better among white women in the commonwealth, and much of the appeal behind Thursday’s event was geared toward getting the suburban gathering to network with their friends and neighbors, make calls, and affix bumper stickers to their minivans.
“The most important network is the YOU network,” said Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who participated in the Virginia Women for Romney events, which featured an earlier stop in Charlottesville.
The Obama campaign, meanwhile, has been running ads in the commonwealth and other swing states charging that a Romney presidency would mark a step backward for women in areas like reproductive rights and contraception.
“The Obama campaign and those ads don’t speak for all Virginia women,” Jean Ann Bolling said.
One middle-aged Mechanicsville woman in the store told the gathering that she has been called a racist for not supporting the president.
She said she is not a racist and that when she is pushed on the issue, she responds by saying “I’m voting against the white half” of Obama, a reference to the president’s mother, who was white.
The public officials at the event quickly tried to talk the woman out of engaging with others along that line of political argument, calling it a distraction from the real.
Later, after being approached by reporters, and in the presence of a GOP staffer, the woman declined to give her name, saying of the remark, “I just say it as a joke.”
To Susan Allen, Romney should appeal to women for the same reason he should appeal to men – the economy.
Whether they are business CEO’s or homemakers concerned about their husband holding onto a job or their children being able to find one, the wife of the former governor and U.S. Senator said women “know that this country is not where it should be.”
“The pulse on the ground is way different because of the economy,” she said.