Sen. Hutchison: ‘Stupid’ comments cost GOP female voters

During an interview with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, Hutchison was asked to explain the gender gap that saw President Obama post a strong edge over GOP nominee Mitt Romney with female voters.

“I think we had Republican candidates who got very high-profile and said some very stupid things,” said the Texas senator. “I think that really tainted the party even though Mitt Romney came right out and said, 'This is not right, we disagree with this.' The party leadership did the same thing; no one embraced Todd Akin after he said those things, including the Republican campaign committees, but it was used in the political sense against us and it was, I think, the feeling that Republicans don’t get it.”

While Hutchison did not specify which candidates she was referring to, O’Brien cited Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, during Hutchison’s response. 

Akin lost his bid to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in Missouri after controversial comments claiming that women’s bodies could prevent pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.” Akin rejected calls from Romney and other Republican leaders to stand down.

In Indiana, Mourdock invited controversy by saying pregnancy caused by rape is “something God intended happen,” while explaining his religious beliefs and opposition to abortion rights in cases of rape. 

"I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God," Mourdock said during a candidate debate. "And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

Democrats, though, quickly seized on both remarks to paint the GOP and Romney as out of touch with the concerns of women.

Hutchison said that to win female voters back, Republicans needed to focus on economic issues.

“I just think people have personal beliefs and what we need to do is fashion a party around the economics and the long-term viability of the economy of our country. When people try to go into such personal issues and try to form a party around it, it’s very difficult,” she said.

“The Tea Party, for instance, started by focusing on the debt and the deficit and the fiscal cliff and then it got all mired in other issues, a myriad of issues that muddled the message that we’ve got to do something about the economy,” she added.

Hutchison, who is retiring at the end of her term this year, also said she was looking forward to life outside of politics.

“There are wonderful things about public service, and you’ll miss part of it, but I’m so ready and I think it’s good for the process to have term limits and people serving and then going back and living with the laws that are made,” she said.

“I am excited about going home, excited about a new career, and I’m ready.”