9:03 am Aug. 27, 2012
Mitt Romney presented a new argument on Sunday morning for why he's the best candidate on the issue of women's health.
"Look, I'm the guy that was able to get health care for all the women, and men, in my state," he said on "Fox News Sunday."
"They're just talking about it at the federal level. We actually did something. And we did it without cutting Medicare and without raising taxes."
"So you're saying 'look at Romneycare?'" asked host Chris Wallace, with what sounded like a touch of surprise.
"Absol—" Romney started to say, then switched to: "I'm very proud of what we did and the fact that we helped women, and men, and children in our state, and we did it without cutting Medicare, which also affects a lot of women."
On the eve of their big convention, Republicans were still trying to distance themselves from Missouri congressman Todd Akin, who said Friday that he would stay in his Senate race against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill, even after his comments about "legitimate rape" stepped all over the Romney campaign's pre-convention messaging and caused him to nosedive in the polls.
John McCain, his would-be Senate colleague, restated the Republican Party's desire to see him go, saying, "Frankly, he would not be welcomed by Republicans in the United States Senate."
Akin's comments came at a particularly inopportune time for the party, which spent the last week drafting its platform in advance of the convention, which includes an official pro-life position without any explicit exceptions for abortion in the cases of rape or incest.
"I think what's important to understand, yes, Mitt Romney is pro-life and the Republican Party, although it has diversity on this issue, is the home of the pro-life movement in American politics," said Senator Marco Rubio.
Rubio said polls show more Americans than ever identify as pro-life.
"And for those of us who are pro-life, like myself, this is not an issue about denying anyone rights," he said. "This is an issue about protecting the rights of a human being to live irrespective of what stage and development they may be. And so, I think that's what Mitt Romney and the Republican Party stand for."
At the top of the ticket, Romney has mostly avoided getting drawn into social-issue fights, and Republicans on Sunday also tried to parry the inevitable Akin questions with a proactive pitch that the party represents a big tent for women, and for Hispanic voters, especially on economic issues.
"We have to point out that the unemployment rate amongst young women is now 16 percent, that the unemployment amongst Hispanics is very high, that jobs and the economy are more important perhaps than maybe other issues," said McCain. "We are a big-tent party."
But at least some Republicans conceded that the party's tone hasn't exactly been inviting.
"We’ve got to have a better tone going forward over the long haul for sure," said former Florida governor Jeb Bush. "You can’t ask people to join your cause and then send a signal that you’re really not wanted. It just doesn’t work."
While Romney seems to have calculated that his health care plan, which is substantially similar to President Obama's, will be less of a liability in the general election, none of the other Republicans so much as mentioned it.