Bring It On: Top Ranking GOP Woman in House Battles 'War on Women' Meme
As it presses the accusation that Republicans are waging a "war on women," the White House has a key adversary saying otherwise on and off the Hill: the top-ranking GOP woman in the House, Washington state Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
"The war on women is a myth and it's been manufactured by the Democrats as a wedge issue," the vice-chairwoman of the House Republican Conference told PJM, stressing it's "unacceptable" to be diverting attention away from the mounting national debt and economic insecurity.
McMorris Rodgers said Republicans won the women's vote in 2010 midterm elections for the first time since the Reagan era, and she believes opposition to President Obama's policies such as the healthcare law will drive women to the polls in 2012 as well.
"They do not want the federal government interfering with their ability to make decisions," she said, stressing that women not only make 85 percent of healthcare decisions in this country but comprise the "vast majority" of healthcare professionals.
On the last day of healthcare arguments before the Supreme Court, McMorris Rodgers and nine other House Republican women held a press conference outside the Capitol to talk about their gender's opposition to the healthcare law.
"As the Democrats keep talking about a ‘war on women,’ the biggest reason they haven’t gained any traction on this issue – according to polls – is that it only reminds women about what they don’t like about ObamaCare," she said then. "And as women look at this entire controversy more closely, what they see isn’t Republicans trying to undermine women’s health, it’s that Democrats are trying to scare American women. But what American women really find scary are the president’s policies."
The congresswoman also noted in her conversation with PJM that women are starting 400 new businesses every day and face burdensome taxes and regulatory efforts.
This puts the White House on the defensive, she charged.
"President Obama and the Democrats recognize they have to do better among women," McMorris Rodgers said. "They've manufactured this war on women as a distraction."
The contraception-mandate testimony of Sandra Fluke, for instance, was "all part of their campaign orchestrated to make a point and it's unfortunate that we stepped in the trap."
The fourth-term House member said she is "working to expose what I think is really going on -- this is a campaign issue, this is a political ploy." Republicans should "not allow President Obama and Debbie Wasserman Schultz to paint a false picture."
"I think for a number of years the Democrats have talked to women like they are single-issue voters," she said. "They are concerned about a whole host of issues: economy, energy, energy prices."
McMorris Rodgers' name is on most analysts' veepstakes lists, considering her experience on the Hill and Mitt Romney's need to build support among women voters.
Intrade has McMorris Rodgers at a 0.5 percent chance of being on the ticket and political expert Larry Sabato puts her in the fourth tier of potential VP picks, along with Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Race42012.com put the congresswoman at No. 7 in its March power rankings.
"I'm really focused on being the best representative I can be for the people of eastern Washington," McMorris Rodgers said. "I'm really not expecting to be on the ticket or seeking to be on the ticket, for that matter."