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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Obama Hits Colorado With Appeal to Women


Women's issues and wind energy will join middle-class tax cuts as part of President Obama's platform on Wednesday and Thursday as he campaigns yet again in Colorado, a vital swing state where a new poll underscored his vulnerability from voters' doubts about the economy.

In the first of four stops, Mr. Obama will be introduced on Wednesday afternoon at the University of Colorado in Denver at the state's largest campus by Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law School graduate who earlier this year became the face of women's reproductive rights after Congressional Republicans blocked her from testifying about insurance coverage of contraception. The conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh later referred to her as a prostitute; he apologized after a furor caused some corporate sponsors to defect from his program.

Mr. Obama's emphasis on the issue of reproductive rights suggests an effort to solidify his backing among women , who are the mainstay of his support and offset his weakness among white males. In Colorado, his lead over Mitt Romney among women is not as wide as it is nationally and in other swing states, according to a new poll for Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News, accounting for Mr. Romney's narrow edge among likely Colorado voters overall.

The Obama campaign has recently run ads in the state slamming Mr. Romney's stands on women's issues, including using video clips in which Mr. Romney vows to end public support for Planned Parenthood. Like much of Mr. Obama's strategy in Colorado, the overt pitch to women borrows from the 2010 campaign playbook of Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat who will appear with the president. In an otherwise dismal year for Democrats, Mr. Bennet was elected on support from women and Latinos alienated by Republican positions on contraceptive rights and immigration.

From Denver, Mr. Obama will fly west to Grand Junction on Wednesday evening and then campaign in Pueblo in the southeast on Thursday, drawing attention in each place to his support for â€" and Mr. Romney's opposition to â€" renewing federal tax credits to encourage wind energy.

In Colorado, which has become a leader in harnessing wind energy, tax incentives have bipartisan support. Recent media coverage has not been kind to Mr. Romney, noting that he supports oil and gas subsidies even as he attacks the wind energy credits as part of what he calls Mr. Obama's costly obsession with “green jobs.” A column this week in The Denver Post began, “Is Romney trying to blow it?”

At each stop, including the last, at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Mr. Obama also will continue the assault against Mr. Romney's tax cut plans that he mounted last week in two other battleground states, Ohio and Florida. The basis of his attack is a nonpartisan study released last week concluding that Mr. Romney's propos als inevitably would mean big income-tax reductions for the wealthiest taxpayers and increases for the other 95 percent of Americans.

Colorado is now considered a toss-up state, one the president is struggling to win after he carried it comfortably in 2008, as the new poll indicated. Obama trails in the state by five percentage points, the survey found, with 50 percent of likely voters favoring Mr. Romney and 45 percent supporting Mr. Obama.

“I think we're doing fine in Colorado, but it's a battleground state for a reason,” said David Axelrod, Mr. Obama's longtime strategist.

The president's weakness in Colorado mirrors the continued weakness of the economic recovery. By 10 percentage points - 51 percent to 41 percent - likely voters in the state say Mr. Romney would do a better job of handling the economy, according to the poll. And 43 percent say their own finances would be hurt by Mr. Obama's re-election - nearly twice the 22 percent who say their pe rsonal finances would be helped if he won. State voters split on whether Mr. Romney's election would hurt or help them personally.

About four in 10 likely voters say the economy is getting worse, and voters split over whether Mr. Obama's policies eventually will help the economy improve.

The poll had another worrisome snapshot for Mr. Obama. While he is buoyed nationally and in many swing states by his greater favorability ratings among voters, that is not the case in Colorado: 50 percent of likely voters say they have an unfavorable view of the president and 46 percent have a favorable view. But Mr. Romney has a net-positive rating, with 47 percent holding a favorable view of him and 42 percent an unfavorable view.

Other results, more helpful to Mr. Obama, explain the closeness of the race. More voters say Mr. Obama better understands their problems. Many say Mr. Romney cared more for investor profits than jobs in his business career. And six in 10 agree w ith Mr. Obama that wealthier Americans should pay more income taxes.