Black caucus chairman condemns Dem claims GOP is waging 'war on women'

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The chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), on Sunday condemned the charge by some Democrats that Republicans are engaged in a “war on women.”

Cleaver appeared on an Easter Sunday panel on CNN’s “State of the Union” to criticize the claim by some conservatives that the Obama administration is prosecuting a “war on religion” through its policy mandating that employees of religious organizations have access to contraception.

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Cleaver assailed that accusation as “absurd” and took issue with a criticism from evangelical activist Ralph Reed that the president had demonstrated “total insensitivity if not outright hostility to the religious beliefs of millions of Americans.”

“We’ve got to quit exaggerating our political differences,” Cleaver said. He pointed out that he had condemned fellow Democrats for comparing Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker to Adolf Hitler.

When Reed, the founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, responded by asking if it was similarly wrong for Democrats to accuse Republicans of engaging in a “war on women,” Cleaver said yes.

“Yes, that is wrong, and I have never said it, not one time,” he said. “I condemn it. If it’s a Democrat, if it’s my cousin, then it’s wrong.”

Reed stood by his criticism of the Obama administration as “hostile” to Americans of faith, but he steered clear of asserting a “war on religion.”

Appearing on CNN earlier, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), did not respond directly when asked whether the charge of a GOP “war on women” crossed the line.