By Amie Parnes - 08/08/12 08:46 PM EDT
President Obama on Wednesday accused Republicans of wanting to take the nation “back to policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century” during a campaign stop aimed at securing support from women.
Stumping on a two-day, four-stop swing through Colorado — a state where Obama needs strong turnout from women in November — the president sought to hammer home the benefits his healthcare law includes for families, such as free mammograms and contraception and cancer screenings with no copay.
“The decisions that affect a woman’s health aren’t up to politicians or insurance companies, they’re up to you,” Obama said during a fiery speech in Denver before a crowd of nearly all women.
Targeting Romney specifically, Obama said, “He said he’d ‘get rid of’ Planned Parenthood,” as the crowd booed.
“He joined the far right to support a bill that would allow an employer to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees,” Obama added. “Let me tell you something, Denver — I don’t think your boss should control the care you get. I think there is one person who should make decisions on your healthcare, and that person is you,” the president said.
Obama was introduced to the Denver crowd by Sandra Fluke, the recent law school graduate who wound up at the center of controversy earlier this year after she was targeted by Rush Limbaugh for publicly supporting the administration's contraception coverage mandate.
In brief remarks, Fluke credited Obama, who she said “defended my right to speak without being attacked.
“Mr. Romney could only say those weren’t the words he would have chosen," she said. "Well, Mr. Romney, you’re not going to be the candidate we choose." Fluke also chastised Romney, adding, “we know he’ll never stand up for us and he won’t defend the rights that generations of women have fought for.”
Meanwhile, a new Quinnipiac University/CBS/New York Times poll shows the president trailing Romney 50 to 45 percent in Colorado, a state he won with a 9-point margin in 2008.
Even before the president landed in Colorado to deliver his first speech of the two-day tour, Republican National Committee Co-Chairwoman Sharon Day accused him of “pandering to women today, hoping to distract from the devastating effects Obama policies have had on female voters."
“Today, unemployment among women is higher than when President Obama took office," Day said. "More women are out of work in the Obama economy, and the few jobs that are created go disproportionately to men. Women who manage the household budget are forced to make do with less as grocery store prices rise and wages fall. Mothers are terrified as they see their children’s future mortgaged by reckless government spending.”
Amanda Henneberg, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign, also weighed in, saying that Obama's "four years in office haven't been kind to women.
"Hundreds of thousands of women have lost their jobs, poverty among women is highest in nearly two decades, and half of recent graduates can't find a job," Henneberg said. "Middle-class families have struggled in the Obama economy and Mitt Romney has a plan to strengthen the middle class and get our country back on the right track."
During his speech, Obama said Romney would take the country backward on women’s issues.
“Let me tell you — there’s nothing conservative about a government that prevents a woman from making her own health decisions,” he said. “Freedom is the chance to determine the care you need, when you need it.”
But the president didn’t just focus on women’s health issues. He also reminded the crowd that he was the one who tapped Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.
“The next president could tip the balance of the court in a way that turns back the clock for women and families for decades to come,” he said.
He also mocked Romney for not coming forward with a firm answer on equal-pay issues.
“When my opponent’s campaign was asked if he’d fight to guarantee equal pay for equal work, they said ‘we’ll get back to you on that,’” he said.
Later that day, at a speech in a packed high school gymnasium in Grand Junction, Colorado, Obama called Romney's plans for fixing the economy, "trickle-down, tax-cut fairy dust."
"I've got a different plan for America," Obama said. "Four years ago, I promised to cut middle-class taxes and that's exactly what I've done."
Updated at 8:32 p.m.