As Women’s Issues Could Tip Scales of Election, GOP Struggles to Close Gap

Republican state senate candidate’s comments regarding ‘legitimate’ rape have provided democrats with easy campaign fodder.

Less than three months before the elections, the U.S. presidential race is still too close to call. According to a new AP poll, President Barack Obama leads with 47% while Mitt Romney stands at 46%, but an NBC poll shows Obama with a lead of 10 points among the female voters - and it is certainly the gap Democrats are willing to take full advantage of. 

This week, the Republicans made it an easy game for the democrats: the 110 member committee drafting the platform for the Republican Convention approved the Human Life Amendment, which calls for a ban on abortion, though it includes an incest or rape cases caveat.

Meanwhile, Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin presented a medieval theory that in case of "legitimate" (or real) rape, a woman's body can "shut down" an unwanted pregnancy – making a rape caveat for unnecessary.

Akin later partially apologized for his remarks, stating he regretted only the use of the term “legitimate rape,” but that the rest of his comments cannot be viewed as incorrect or immoral. Akin also criticized the Republican Party for distancing itself from his comments.

Akin’s partial apology was in vain – his comments have already become a hot topic for the Democratic campaign agenda.

The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) CEO Nancy K. Kaufman commented on the candidates remarks, attempting to focus on "what's really at stake - women’s fundamental rights — and not on preposterous claims regarding pregnancy and what constitutes ‘legitimate’ rape.  As abhorrent as such claims may be, they are an offensive distraction from attempts in the House of Representatives to use every tool at hand to end all access to abortion," said Kaufman.

One of the speakers at the Democratic National Convention, which will be held a week after the GOP’s gathering in Tampa, will be Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke.

 Fluke was thrown into national spotlight when she testified on the importance of including contraception coverage in health insurance before a congressional panel – after which conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh called her a "slut" and a "prostitute," that wants taxpayers to pay for her contraception. 

"I think unfortunately the campaign is not always focused on a specific policy issue," Fluke told Haaretz.

Fluke stated that she would rather discuss the ramifications of candidates’ policies as opposed to vicious attacks against her, “but even when the campaign veers into that unproductive territory, it gives us an opportunity to see candidates’ different leadership in how they react to this type of attack.

“In my situation, all Governor Romney could say is that ‘these not are the words he would have chosen.’ And that really does give me at least a window to his leadership capacity and his ability to distance himself from the most extreme parts of his party, which rather than condemning them, he has embraced them full heartedly,” said Fluke.

"There was the affordable care Act policy, and violence against women act and the Fair Pay Act, and just issue after issue where I saw that President Obama was doing everything he could to fight for women, while Governor Romney was unable to take a position or decide what he felt about it," said Fluke, explaining her decision to join the campaign.

"That really clarified for me that the biggest thing I could do support women in this country would be to support President Obama. Any election is about the variety of issues - this one is certainly about the economy, but women are a big part of our economy, and it's important to discuss how candidates’ policies affect women’s pocketbooks and women's personal economic well being, and how healthcare policies affect them," said Fluke.