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Campaign surrogates talking about women's issues
Recent comments on abortion, rape fueling discussion
This story is part of a special series.

Jo Ingles
Ohio State University students get off the Obama-Biden bus at the Franklin County Early Voting Center. Around two dozen women went inside to cast ballots.
Courtesy of Jo Ingles
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It's the year of the woman and nowhere is that more evident than in the fever pitch of Ohio's presidential race.

Polls show women in Ohio are supporting Democratic President Barack Obama while men are favoring Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. In recent days, women who support both candidates have taken to the campaign trail, trying to win votes.

As Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports, recent comments about abortion and rape have fueled a fire over an issue that could make a big difference.

Ingles on the debate over women's issues

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The debate over abortion comes at a time when both candidates are putting focus on winning votes of women in Ohio.  The campaigns are using different tactics.  In Republican leaning Delaware County, a large Romney Ryan bus pulls into the parking lot of an early voting center. Republican Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor invites a handful of women who’ve gathered at the center to get on board.

“I’ve been on the bus for my second day and we are travelling across the state of Ohio trying to reach out to our voters in every county, kind of the purpose of the bus is to reinforce early voting.”

Taylor urges the women on board to cast ballots for Romney and Ryan early so they can volunteer to help get out the vote on Election Day.  She says this is the most important election of our lifetime. And she talks about how high government spending could saddle her children with out of control debt and hold them back from getting educational and career opportunities they deserve.  She doesn’t mention the abortion issue.  Neither does former Attorney General Betty Montgomery who is also on board.  But after the women get off the bus, Montgomery says she doesn’t believe the abortion issue is what women are focused on right now.

“The question about abortion is an important personal question. But if I go into the emergency room right now with a broken arm and a gunshot wound to the chest, you can fix the broken arm and I could still die.  The most important thing I have to worry about right now is the economy.  It’s the most important thing we worry about and the Obama campaign has been very good at throwing the distractions out.”

The Obama campaign is using abortion as one way to motivate women, especially younger women, to vote for the President. A large charter bus carrying about two dozen young female students from Ohio State University pulls into the early voting center in Franklin County.  They are greeted by Ohio’s former first lady, Democrat Frances Strickland. 

“Well this is a very important time for women in this country and young women.  Their rights that we thought had been settled are at risk again.  I think a lot is at risk and people need to think long and hard about sitting this election out.”

Strickland says you can’t trust Romney on where he stands on the abortion issue.

“I really want to take him at face value but the fact that he has been one way then gone another way then switched back another way. So that’s one of my problems with him because I don’t know what he’s doing to get votes and what he really believes.”

The real question is going to be what Ohio women believe.  Right now, polls show most women are supporting President Obama.  Challenger Romney is hoping to shift some of that support to him in the coming days. And if he is successful in attracting enough of them, it’s quite possible Ohio women could determine the future of the nation.

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