Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund planning revenge on Mitt Romney

Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund plans to spend more than $3 million in Ohio and Virginia against Mitt Romney in the wake of his pledge to “get rid” of the women’s health advocacy group.

The group is one of several liberal-leaning women’s organizations planning to spend millions of dollars in crucial election states to swing undecided female voters toward President Obama.

Joining them are NARAL Pro-Choice America and EMILY’s List, two abortion-rights groups who are also planning aggressive campaigns.

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Their message is in line with Obama’s increased courtship of female voters.

Several women will address the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. And the campaign announced on Friday a “Romney/Ryan: Wrong For Women” tour for next week that will feature prominent female supporters traveling to swing states to promote the president’s record on women issues.

The support from women’s groups can boost those efforts. Their advertising offensive comes months after Romney pledged to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood.

"Of course you get rid of ‘ObamaCare,’ that's the easy one, but there are others," he said in March. "Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that."

Planned Parenthood Action Fund — which is the political arm of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America — will spend $3.2 million on television ads in Ohio and Virginia beginning in mid-September.

“We have purchased ad time in northern Virginia, in Columbus, Ohio, and Toledo, Ohio, because they have high concentrations of undecided voters or swing voters,” said Deirdre Schifeling, director of national organizing and electoral campaigns at Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

“We’re going to layer that with mail, phone, door-to-door canvassing and a significant online buy,” she added.

Ohio and Virginia are two of the biggest prizes in the presidential contest and polls show Romney and Obama running in a dead heat in those states.

A poll released Wednesday by Hart Research Associates on behalf of Planned Parenthood Action Fund found Romney has weak support among women voters in six battleground states, including Ohio and Virginia.

The poll found 44 percent of women voters initially viewed Romney as “out of step” on issues affecting them, a number that grew to 64 percent when informed of Romney’s statements on abortion and reproductive health.

“We are very focused also on swing women likely voters,” said Schifeling.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund spent $1.4 million on an anti-Romney ad buy in Des Moines, Iowa; West Palm Beach, Fla.; and northern Virginia in June. A poll commissioned shortly afterward showed a significant shift in support among undecided women.

The details of the September ad offensive have yet to be settled but it will likely emphasize Romney’s support for overturning Roe v. Wade, the court decision establishing a right to an abortion, and his pledge to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.

NARAL Pro-Choice America plans a similar effort though it has yet to reveal what states it will target or the size of its budget.

“We’re going to educate voters on the Romney-Ryan record,” said Elizabeth Shipp, the group’s political director. “We’re going after voters known as ‘Obama defectors’, women who voted for Obama in 2008 and are not committed to voting for him in November or not planning to vote. We have a whole strategy of communicating to them through available platforms.

“We’re going to spend significant resources on mail, television and online ads in swing states,” she said.

Shipp declined to reveal her budget but said it would likely be similar to what the group spent in recent presidential elections. NARAL spent around $2.5 million in the 2008 election and $2.5 million in 2004, she said.

NARAL also will emphasize Romney’s apparent support for a personhood initiative that failed last year in Mississippi.

Romney told Mike Huckabee on Fox News last year that he “absolutely” would support a constitutional amendment establishing the definition of life at conception.

Mississippi voted a month later on a ballot initiative that would have banned abortion, the morning-after pill, and intrauterine devices. It failed with 55-percent opposition. 

EMILY’s List, a group dedicated to electing Democratic women who support abortion rights, will emphasize Medicare reforms proposed in Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget.

“We tested cuts to Medicare and cuts to Social Security and the polling was off the charts — and these were independent women,” said Jess McIntosh, a spokeswoman for EMILY’s List. “Women in their 20s and 30s were concerned about retiring safely.”

Planned Parenthood and EMILY’s List report their membership has jumped since Republicans captured the House in 2010 and set out to eliminate Title X funding for family planning services.

Planned Parenthood reports its membership increased by around 1 million supporters in 2011 and is now close to 7 million. EMILY’s List says its membership has increased from 400,000 at the end of the 2010 election cycle to over 1.5 million.