Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

GOP good for women? Please

By Ilyse Hogue, Special to CNN
updated 11:31 AM EDT, Sun September 2, 2012
The crowd cheers as Ann Romney wife of Mitt Romney, speaks on stage during the Republican National Convention
The crowd cheers as Ann Romney wife of Mitt Romney, speaks on stage during the Republican National Convention
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ilyse Hogue says the GOP tried hard at convention to show they are on women's side
  • She says a look at Romney-Ryan positions and GOP platform show otherwise
  • She says both would prevent abortion even in rape or incest, would cut nutrition aid
  • Hogue: Romney still refuses to support the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Check Fairness Act.

Editor's note: Ilyse Hogue is co-director of Friends of Democracy, a super PAC aimed at electing candidates who champion campaign finance reform. She is the former director of political advocacy and communications for MoveOn.org and has been a senior strategist to Democratic and progressive groups, including Media Matters for America, Public Campaign and Rebuild the Dream. She is a regular contributor to The Nation magazine.

(CNN) -- The image makers were in overdrive at the Republican National Convention this week. They finally had their candidate but now they had a problem: The guy wasn't likable. And nowhere was that problem more acute than with women voters.

Concerns about Mitt Romney's slash-and-burn economic approach at Bain Capital, coupled with displays on the campaign trail of his stunning lack of empathy had shaken confidence among women voters. Add in the wound reopened when Senate candidate Todd Akin spoke aloud the GOP's twisted ideas about women and rape and pregnancy, and the mandate to the handlers was infinitely clear: Make every night Ladies' Night at the Mirage in Tampa.

Ilyse Hogue
Ilyse Hogue

The show kicked off with Ann Romney headlining the first night. Her speech overflowed with love for her husband and family, and she deftly attempted to transfer those warm and fuzzy feelings to the women viewers. "I love you women! I hear your voices," she shouted at us as her husband's proxy. Throughout the week, prominent women, such as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, headlined high profile events.

Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan regaled us with tales of his truly amazing mom. And as Romney prepared to take the stage on the final night, a soft-focus video brought the love between Ann and Mitt into full technicolor, while walk-ons from women of lesser stature were scattered throughout at a reassuring pace.

Did Romney-Ryan's RNC strategy work?
Emken: GOP women should tout experience
David Frum on Romney's acceptance speech

By prime time, we couldn't miss the marquee message: Mitt loves women, so keep calm and carry on. Mitt's largely biographical speech was light on substance and long on references to the ladies who had shaped him and supported his career, including those in senior leadership of his governor's cabinet. His shout out to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who had appeared that week on the dais, gave him an opportunity to invoke his mother's posthumous approval of how far women have come.

Opinion: Did Romney gain ground?

Then, in a deluge of red, white and blue balloons, the pretty show ended and the workers began to dismantle the Mirage, leaving the harsh sunlight of the day-after to reveal the intractable reality of what a Romney-Ryan presidency would mean for American women.

Women voters care most about the economy and jobs. But with a critical caveat: nine out of 10 women say that a candidate must "understand women." To do that requires an acknowledgment of two things: that women's economic security -- by almost every measure -- still lags behind that of male counterparts and that their economic security is inextricably tied to their ability to control their health, including reproductive choices. And on those points, no illusions and tradesman's tricks can obscure the fact that the GOP agenda fails the test.

A July National Women's Law Center report showed that the 2007 Bush recession cost nearly 7.5 million jobs and recovery has been slow to reach women workers. Public sector job loss drives this disparity.

While Romney's jobs plan is still notoriously vague, with little to offer other than a regressive nod to trickle-down economics, Paul Ryan has been frighteningly clear that his top priority is essentially dismantling our government -- a fixation projected to result in a whopping 4.1 million lost jobs over two years. Even the lucky few women who hold or get jobs under a Romney-Ryan administration are likely to be paid far less for equal work. In the aggregate, women are paid on average 77 cents on the dollar to men, but Romney still refuses to support the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Check Fairness Act.

Opinion: Is that the best Mitt Romney can do?

What of the women who can't get jobs? They can look forward to victimization and vilification. The 24 million women who live in poverty in America span all ethnic groups, with single moms twice as likely to be poor as single dads. Still, Ryan has proposed cutting nutrition assistance to these households, often the only thing that stands between them and malnutrition. Romney has not disagreed. Meanwhile, in a cynical race play, the Romney campaign's deceptive ad campaign attacking welfare recipients has denigrated these women instead of offering solutions.

Adding insult to injury, Romney's Republican platform includes an extremist anti-abortion amendment that removes exemptions even for rape and incest victims. A party that eliminates a woman's right to choose while at the same time cutting pay, jobs, and access to health care and food security exposes a bizarre and dangerous lack of understanding of the challenges facing American women.

No matter how much love bounced around the walls of the Tampa Mirage, in real life, lip service and speeches -- even by women -- don't feed the family. What women need is a sober assessment of how economic challenges uniquely affect us and solutions that reflect that understanding. And despite their best efforts over the last week, that's one promise that a Romney-Ryan presidency can't deliver.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ilyse Hogue.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:42 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
updated 8:12 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
updated 12:09 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
updated 6:45 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
updated 4:34 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
updated 2:51 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Jeff Yang says the film industry's surrender will have lasting implications.
updated 4:13 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Newt Gingrich: No one should underestimate the historic importance of the collapse of American defenses in the Sony Pictures attack.
updated 7:55 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
Dean Obeidallah asks how the genuine Stephen Colbert will do, compared to "Stephen Colbert"
updated 12:34 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Some GOP politicians want drug tests for welfare recipients; Eric Liu says bailed-out execs should get equal treatment
updated 8:42 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Louis Perez: Obama introduced a long-absent element of lucidity into U.S. policy on Cuba.
updated 12:40 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
updated 11:00 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The Internet is an online extension of our own neighborhoods. It's time for us to take their protection just as seriously, says Arun Vishwanath.
updated 4:54 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says we must speak out for the right of children to education -- and peace
updated 5:23 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Russia's economic woes just seem to be getting worse. How will President Vladimir Putin respond? Frida Ghitis gives her take.
updated 1:39 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Australia has generally seen itself as detached from the threat of terrorism. The hostage incident this week may change that, writes Max Barry.
updated 3:20 PM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Thomas Maier says the trove of letters the Kennedy family has tried to guard from public view gives insight into the Kennedy legacy and the history of era.
updated 9:56 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
Will Congress reform the CIA? It's probably best not to expect much from Washington. This is not the 1970s, and the chances for substantive reform are not good.
updated 4:01 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
From superstorms to droughts, not a week goes by without a major disruption somewhere in the U.S. But with the right planning, natural disasters don't have to be devastating.
updated 9:53 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
Would you rather be sexy or smart? Carol Costello says she hates this dumb question.
updated 5:53 PM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
A story about Pope Francis allegedly saying animals can go to heaven went viral late last week. The problem is that it wasn't true. Heidi Schlumpf looks at the discussion.
updated 10:50 AM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
Democratic leaders should wake up to the reality that the party's path to electoral power runs through the streets, where part of the party's base has been marching for months, says Errol Louis
updated 4:23 PM EST, Sat December 13, 2014
David Gergen: John Brennan deserves a national salute for his efforts to put the report about the CIA in perspective
updated 9:26 AM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Anwar Sanders says that in some ways, cops and protesters are on the same side
updated 9:39 AM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
A view by Samir Naji, a Yemeni who was accused of serving in Osama bin Laden's security detail and imprisoned for nearly 13 years without charge in Guantanamo Bay
updated 12:38 PM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
S.E. Cupp asks: How much reality do you really want in your escapist TV fare?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT