Battle for women's votes: 6 flash points

The uproar over the Obama campaign’s 'Life of Julia' Web infographic – which made #Julia big on Twitter – highlights just how fiercely both parties are fighting for the women’s vote. The economy is by far the most important issue in November for both sexes. But there are other areas with special significance to women. Here are the main flash points.

5. Family narrative

Obama’s life story is dominated by strong females – from his mother and grandmother to his wife, daughters, sister, and mother-in-law, who lives with them at the White House. The president jokes about how he and Bo the dog “go to the man cave” and “turn on ‘SportsCenter’ ” just to get away.

But the truth is that Obama’s extended female family is a political plus. And they will be central players in his reelection campaign, as he and the first lady seek to show women voters that he “gets it” about what many have gone through and what the next generation needs. 

“He is the son of a single mother who struggled to put herself through school and pay the bills,” Michelle Obama said May 5 in remarks introducing her husband. “That’s who he is.”

She also spoke of how his grandmother, who helped raise him, hit the glass ceiling in her job at a bank, as “men no more qualified than she was were promoted up the ladder.”

Romney, born to wealth, can’t compete with that narrative. And his wife, Ann, while scoring high in polls on likability, has also been caught in the “wealth trap” with a $990 shirt and two Cadillacs. Romney can, and has, talked about Ann’s struggles with health problems more commonly faced by women. But when talking about the challenges many women encounter in seeking educational opportunity and professional success, Romney has to go outside his own family’s experience.

Yet Romney has already shown he won’t hand an easy issue to Obama, when he said he supported legislation preventing the interest rate on federal student loans from doubling.

But Obama also has to be careful. Depending on how the explosive conservative reaction to “The Life of Julia” plays out, Obama may have to dial back the message that government is in our lives from cradle to grave.

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