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Friday, October 28, 2016

Mitt Romney may be a perfect husband. He’s clearly devoted to Ann Romney. Their storybook relationship began as blushing teenagers, and 43 years and five sons later, Mitt is still smitten with Ann. Lovely.

The problem for Romney is that most women don’t live such fairytale lives. And the candidate’s obvious devotion to one woman doesn’t have a great deal of relevance to them as voters. Women are increasingly the household breadwinners, and more women now graduate from college than men. Yet women still earn less then men do, even in comparable positions. They tend to do more of the caring for elderly parents and are more likely to leave the workforce temporarily or limit their hours to see to the needs of young children.

The challenge for both the Romney and  Obama campaigns now is to court undecided female voters, a large enough demographic that they could swing the election. To that end, let me make a suggestion: Stop viewing us as a needy constituency and treat us more as equals.

In this, Obama has the edge so far. He shows it in the words he chooses when discussing issues that affect women more directly than men, such as unequal pay and contraception. He also walks the talk, as when he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

The candidate who will win the undecided women’s vote will be able to honestly discuss inequities that face women, especially in the workplace, yet not talk down to them or only to their wombs. It’s about including women as equals without pandering.

Both Romney and Obama can point to strong, intelligent women who were influential in their lives — both of their mothers qualify. Each man has lived through an era in which women’s roles in the home and workplace changed dramatically.

Many female voters are looking for a candidate who understands the difficult choices women are compelled to make with respect to family and work, who understands the pressure women feel from society’s often-outmoded notions of gender roles. They want a candidate who can show he has learned from women’s experiences during his lifetime, and empathized and stood alongside them when necessary.

Romney’s awkward debate gaffe about “binders full of women” only highlighted what many suspect: that he’s not comfortable discussing the problems many women face. In fact, Romney offered the much-parodied comment while trying to sidestep a question about equal pay. Instead of answering it directly, he boasted about making extra efforts to hire women as cabinet members when he was governor of Massachusetts.

What went unexplained was whether Romney understands why such extra efforts are still needed to ensure a range of qualified people are considered. It’s because the deck is still often stacked against women, with unequal pay and promotion for equal work and by attitudes that continue to see their input as extraneous.

It also raised the question of how a man could rise as high as Romney had in private and public life and not have a Rolodex full of women who had proven their value in his most trusted circles.

The regrettable thing for Romney is women will never know which is his true self. Is it moderate Mitt of years past who conceded that abortion should be legal, not so much as an endorsement of the procedure but as a safeguard of women’s health and safety? That’s the sort of nuanced position many women value. Or is it the “severely conservative” Mitt who pandered to the GOP’s right wing throughout the party’s primaries by mimicking its threats to Planned Parenthood? Romney is forever suspect as a flip-flopper. Women don’t like to be lied to, and many of us know how to listen for clues to that end.

Is Romney the type of man who is respectful in a woman’s presence, but wholly different when he gets back with a huddle of guys? Like many politicians, he holds certain women in places of honor. No arguments there. But it’s not clear that he will have all women’s interests in mind when it counts.

As a prospective steward of public policy that affects all women, he fails to inspire confidence. This is the nearly insurmountable hurdle that Romney now faces.

(Mary Sanchez is an opinion-page columnist for The Kansas City Star. Readers may write to her at: Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108-1413, or via email at [email protected])

Photo credit: AP/Steven Senne

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Copyright 2012 The National Memo
  • bcarreiro

    If you cant dazzle them with brilliance then baffle them with bullshit.
    This is the Romney/Ryan agenda.

  • Mimi2kool

    Someone wrote that to call Romney a flip-flopper implies that he actually settles on one position at one time before switiching it. In reality, he is in a perpetual spin from one position to another. I have never voted for him and I cannot forsee the circumstances under which I would.

  • Jim Lou

    Mitt is just a product of his background. What is the status of women in his religion? He is constantly bringing out his religious beliefs and how they molded and shaped him.

    • jarheadgene

      Women in the Mormon church are basically 1 step above the taliban.

    • 1bythebrooks2

      ted that neither one mentioned the brave Pakastani girl, Malala. She embodies the future of women in the world! Obama/Biden 2012! I’ll try this again later. Most of my message just got wiped out by my cat.

      • irishtap

        It would be prudent to find out the political leanings of that feline. I’d really hate to think you have a Romney supporting pet.

        Just look into it…

        • 1bythebrooks2

          No, none of my pets are Romney supporters! I’ve taught them too well. And had plenty of talks with them.

          What he wiped out was “Right at the get-go of the debate, Romney said he supports freedom and education for women and girls in Pakistanand other Arab countries. What about the education and freedom of women right here at home! Not for that so much! That’s when Malala came into my comment. I was dissapointed that neither mentioned that brave young woman! Obama/Biden 2012!!

          • Sand_Cat

            My pet cockroach loves Romney!

          • 1bythebrooks2

            NO DOUBT!! I’m sure there is a strong resemblance!

      • ralphkr

        Hmmm, I bet your cat must be a tom and is tired of being bossed around by the much smarter and tougher female cats.

        • 1bythebrooks2

          As a matter of fact, that is just the case!

      • irishtap

        My heart also goes out to that brave teenage girl. Romney would no doubt work to defund public schools at every turn, I’m happy you have such politically astute pets.

  • totenkatz

    It will be interesting what the exit polls show on November 6th on how women voted and why and the breakdown on their age, race, single/married, etc.

  • Lovefacts

    Romney is not only a product of his religion but of the 1950’s. Where did his statement women can work if they want to come from? Women work because they have to, because they’re the breadwinner of the family. They work because a single income won’t put food on the table. Geeze, I still can’t comprehend how out of touch with reality Romney is.

  • firebirdrancher

    I was once told by a Mormon Bishop who worked for me that Mormon’s “put their women on pedestals.” I replied by asking if he ever measured the surface area of a pedestal. When he gave me a baffled look in response, I said “nothing or no one, especially not a religious institute that I could voluntarily join or NOT, was going to limit my space on this earth”. By the blank expression on his face I’m not sure he ever understood–very reminiscent of Romney’s look when asked about equal pay for equal work done.

  • patrick wager-Felix

    OurWomen are very smart and, are fast becoming even much more sophisticated. So, when any fellow comes out swinging @ them, calling them SLUTS, trying to CONVICT them with FELONY for ANY abortion, taking their EQUAL PAY away, REVOKING their Health Care LAW, such TYRANTS become EVIL in a Woman’s empire. This is mitt’s problem.. He HATES Women. PERIOD!
    God bless the President of the USA!
    God bless America!

  • The major reason Mitt can’t connect with woman is that he can’t treat his wife with any respect. Every Sunday he tells her she is inferior and unworthy to be with him at their Cult Church. Woman are prevented to participate in the weekly secret rituals in their temple…The fate of single woman in his Church is more revealing because this group can never be admitted to the top heaven without being married and having sex. It appears sex is a sanctifying and purifying act for woman. This didnt seem to matter to their founding leaders when they passed 13 year old wives around as sexual toys. This continued for 63 years by stacking the local government with mormons so that polygamy and under age marriage would remain legal. It is no wonder that Joseph Smith was murdered by local folk for perpetrating his sexual deviances in their community. Now Romney is indignant about treating other lifestyle arrangements (gay) with fuming dismissal. Ann stand up for yourself ..your being played like a 47% fiddle

    • Sand_Cat

      Look, no one but no one dislikes the Mittwit more than I, but religious attacks are not the way to go unless the candidate clearly intends to use his office to promote his own church. In most cases, such attacks just degenerate into the pot calling the kettle black (how much better is the status of women in fundamentalist or traditionalist Catholic Christian churches, really?). Appealing to religious prejudice is – in my opinion – anti-American, and sinks us to the level of Mitt’s political party.

      There is more than enough in Mitt’s politics to sink his candidacy, or should be, and religious attacks are not only wrong, but a losing proposition long term. Even if it works in the short term, do you really want to validate those (mostly “conservative”) bigots who won’t vote for someone based on his or her sincere belief in a religion, short of one that practices human sacrifice?

  • irishtap

    If you’re a fair minded person, you would be in favor of the Lilly Ledbetter act. No need for nuance here. Romney’s reluctance to take a stand on the side of women in regard to equal pay to men for equal work, points a spotlight onto his lack of character, moral courage and integrity. Mitt Romney is the type of guy that would attempt to convince you to be the one to leave the fox hole to get more ammunition during heavy fire. “Look I plan on running for president one day which more or less makes me your commander in chief at this moment, so you should do your part here and risk your life to get more ammo and bring back reinforcements.”
    Mr. Romney is a parasitic capitalist with zero patriotism, he has fed his off shore bank accounts on the trials of our middle class workers. There is no conscience for the economic tribulation his vulture business model has wrought within his home country. He’s a reckless, dangerous man.

  • Anyone who deliberately tries to hold women back is an idiot. Slightly more than half of all Americans are female.

    To dismiss all that talent, or belittle it for the sake of the bottom line, borders on being criminal.

    In the end, equality will only become a fact when enough women start their own businesses, and become Presidents and CEO’s of these companies.

    Then they will be in positions to promote and pay based on talent and drive, rather than gender.

  • Here is a question for Mitt Romney. The Morman bible says that blacks are the seed of Cain, and they are vile and loathsome and are on earth to represent Satan. They were barred from participating in church services and were not allowed to be Priest in the church until 1978. The question is: Is there any documentation that you, Mitt Romney, took any action to address and to eliminate the racist policy of your church at anytime?

    • grammyjill

      Saw a show on Mormans. There was a guy that was gay. He was thrown out of the church. He was finally let back in with the condition that he NEVER have sex. Real open minded.

  • howa4x

    Romney was raised in a bubble of prep schools and country clubs, and has no idea of the struggles of single moms. Obama was raised by a single mother and one that was ill. He knows the struggles. While Romney was off making mega millions, Obama was a community organizer on the streets of Chicago, dealing everyday with issues that struggling familes faced. It was Obama that pushed out the ability to get contraception from employers in the ACA legislation, and it’s Romney that wants to repeal it. Paul Ryan who Romney chose as a running mate pushed legislation in the house that would have made abortion virtually impossible to get. Look no further than the states and you will see the assualt on women in high gear, from Va to other Red states throwing roadblock after roadblock for women to have access to contraception and other reproductive services. Imagine a Romney justice dept that stands by and watches, unlike Obama’s who withheld all medicaid dollars to Texas unless they funded planed parenthood.
    For women this choice could not be any clearer and if women allow Romney to win, then it is you that will reap the consequences as a group

  • The challenge for both candidates, and for future male candidates, is to recognize the contributions and potential of women in American society and treat them with the respect they deserve. I have never heard a woman ask for handouts or special privileges, the only thing they want is equal rights, and the same freedoms and opportunities men have. Considering that there are more women than men in the USA, I think it is embarrassing that we only have a small caucus of women in Congress, that we never had a female President, that they remain a minority in Cabinet positions, the Supreme Court, and in corporate boards nationwide. The reason for this injustice is not because they are not qualified or interested in getting ahead, but because of a culture that still clings to the father knows best concept.

    • grammyjill

      I think the reason that we haven’t had a woman president is the last time one ran the other side made remarks about PMS starting a war. To avoid that just elect a woman over 50.

  • anyasnote

    As I was reading some of the news and picture of Romney and Ryan popped up, my cat Simone sitting by my keyboard hissed and jumped off my desk. Hmmm does she knows more than most Americans?????