Top Republican women aim to recruit female candidates for 2014

Women from across six of the Republican party's top campaign committees will gather Friday to launch a new project designed to promote the recruitment of female GOP candidates, as the party looks to repair its image among a demographic that broke 55-43 percent for President Obama in 2012.

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The group, dubbed "Women on the Right Unite," will hold a press conference with female lawmakers and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus on Friday afternoon at the Republican National Committee Headquarters. 

The press event follows a strategy session with participants from the RNC, as well as the Republican Governors Association, National Republican Senatorial Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, Republican State Leadership Committee, and College Republican National Committee.

Attendees will include nine female members of Congress, including Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who is running for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia, and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

The initiative is intended to corral resources from across the different campaign committees with the mission of better supporting female candidates and lawmakers within the party.

“Women are essential to our success as a Party and as a country,” said RNC Co-Chairman Sharon Day. “Combining all of the Republican resources from committees up and down the ticket, we will ensure we provide our women candidates the support, mentorship and resources to be successful both as they enter politics or seek higher offices.”

The group "will meet regularly to expand and perfect efforts to engage women," according to a Republican aide.

"This party-wide commitment to training women of all ages includes recruitment, mentorship programs to encourage more women to run and expanding where and how the party engages with women," the aide said.

The effort comes amid a larger rebranding effort within the Republican Party following the 2012 election. The party struggled particularly with women, hampered by high-profile statements regarding rape and abortion by former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock.

Democrats seized on the comments, arguing that the comments were indicative of a broader "war on women" intending to restrict abortion rights and contraceptive access by the GOP.

An autopsy report commissioned by Priebus following the election suggested that Republicans needed to change tone to win back female and young voters. 

The report also suggested that the party needed to do more to elevate female surrogates within the party and promote women to be included in messaging discussions at the RNC. Announcing the report's findings, Priebus admitted that some "biologically stupid" remarks by GOP candidates had alienated female voters.

But the women gathered Friday at the RNC will have a fresh set of questions on abortion rights, prompted by this week's filibuster in the Texas state Senate over a proposed bill that would have shortened the period after conception during which a woman there could seek an abortion. 

The law also would create new restrictions on abortion clinics that would force 37 of the state's 42 clinics to close. 

The proposals were averted following a marathon one-woman filibuster by Democratic state senator Wendy Davis, but Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has called a second special session to pass the bill.

Perry also drew fire from abortion rights groups after saying Thursday it was "unfortunate" that Davis, the daughter of a single woman, "hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters."

The Democratic National Committee released a Web video earlier this week entitled "Same Old Party" again attacking Republicans on their relationship with women.

"While Republicans continue to talk about a rebrand, their actions prove that the Grand Old Party is still the Same Old Party," the DNC's Zoe Pagonis said in a statement.