New Hampshire Republican House candidate Marilinda Garcia argued that Democrats' “insulting” focus on women’s issues like abortion and paycheck fairness distracts from the real issues she says women are concerned about, like jobs, energy and national security.
But Garcia might face distractions from her own preferred message. She once called women “emotional rollercoasters” during a 2007 floor speech on an abortion bill in the New Hampshire legislature — a remark that Democrats are likely to use against her as Election Day nears.
“Frankly, I think it’s insulting, because they’re preying upon what they see as a vulnerable group, one that can be swayed with scare tactics,” Garcia said.
She accused Democrats of “continually harp[ing] upon these social-issue scare tactics” to try to get at voters like herself — young single women. Garcia is 31, and her profile as a young, female Hispanic candidate has made her a rising star within the GOP even before she won a hard-fought primary fight last month.
Garcia said women are more focused on other topics.
“In reality, the women I talk to, I would say maybe 2 percent of all of the voters I’ve talked to in the 2nd District and my peers — What do we talk about? We worry about the job market, we worry about our energy independence, we worry about our debt, we worry about entitlement reform, we worry about national security,” she said.
“These are the issues we want to talk about and women are concerned about, but the Democrats don’t have a record to run on.”
Those comments are similar to ones made by Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown during a Tuesday interview with Fox News, when he was asked about attacks from Democrats on his record on women's issues and he said "I'm talking about issues people care about." Brown, however, called the topics in question — like fair pay and contraception — "very important" and pushed back on the attacks, arguing his record on women's issues has been solid.
In both of New Hampshire's House races and the state's Senate race, Democrats have focused heavily on women's issues in hopes of taking advantage of the advantage Democrats typically enjoy among female voters.
In a statement, Garcia campaign spokesman Kenny Cunningham said the candidate's comments were meant to draw a contrast with Kuster, who "seems to have become a single-issue candidate...intent on treating New Hampshire women as single-issue voters."
"Marilinda Garcia understands that women in New Hampshire are concerned with a broad array of issues, including a lack of good-paying jobs in today's economy and the lack of healthcare options available to them as a result of Obamacare," he said.
"New Hampshire deserves better than the negative campaign Ann Kuster has run thus far. Marilinda believes in treating men and women with respect, regardless of their position on the issues and has built a reputation as a thoughtful legislator who listens to all sides of a debate."
Kuster and groups backing her have hammered Garcia on paycheck fairness, the Violence Against Women Act and abortion, all of which Garcia has opposed in public statements and during her time in the state legislature.
And those attacks are likely to draw further fuel from her comments, during a 2007 floor speech in the New Hampshire House in support of a law requiring parental notification for abortion.
In a clip obtained by The Hill, Garcia declares, “a pregnant teen — I mean, most women are emotional roller coasters — but a pregnant teen is an emotional roller coaster going at warp-speed.”
New Hampshire Democratic Party spokeswoman Julie McClain said the comments were evidence Garcia “is hopelessly out of touch with women and families in New Hampshire.”
“She has insulted women by calling us 'emotional roller coasters’ — belittling our decision-making abilities and suggesting that we cannot be trusted with our own health care decisions. Then, she unilaterally decided that 98 percent of voters don't care about issues like paycheck fairness and reproductive freedom,” McClain said in an email.
“As the families of the second congressional district seek to elect a congresswoman who will move us forward, Marilinda Garcia is promising to send us backwards.”
—This piece was updated at 5 p.m.