Mittens Is Having Lady TroublesS

Now that we know Mitt Romney will be the Republican presidential candidate unless a chasm opens beneath his feet and swallows him into the Earth's core, he's referring all questions about lady voters to his wife of 43 years, if only because Ann's vagina better allows her to address women's issues.

This could be a tenable strategy for Mittens — or at least a strategy — until Ann isn't around, which is exactly what happened earlier this week in Middleton, VT, when someone asked Mittens how he'd counter the Democratic narrative about the contraception debate and a Republican war on women. "I wish Ann was here," he said, "to answer that question in particular," because that particular question is about women and Mitt Romney, much to the mounting frustration of the mythical moderate Republicans, who according to the AP are eager for Romney to demonstrate an honest understanding of how women have coped with the economy and lure some female voters back to the Republican party.

So far, it's been a tough slog. The Republican nominee, according to Rae Lynne Chornenky, president of National Federation of Republican Women, "needs to start recognizing the power that women voters have" as primary season gives way to the general election, something that none of the GOP hopefuls have seemed intellectually capable of understanding. Women can — and will with more frequency than men — vote, which doesn't bode well for Republicans since they've faced a pretty large gender gap since the 80s, with women generally favoring the party that poses the least harm to their uteruses. A recent USA Today/Gallup poll conducted in a dozen key electoral states showed that women favored Barack Obama by 18 percentage points over Romney, while men split evenly, giving Obama a 51-42 over Romney in those states. But Romney's not just losing to a Democratic incumbent — he's losing against past Republicans too, posting only a 30 percent favorability rating among women to John McCain's 47 percent in 2008. Even moderate Republican women are deserting the cause, preferring a candidate who doesn't obliquely refer to dismantling Planned Parenthood and then try clumsily to back the crazy train up before he loses too many voters.

Romney hopes that he can win women over on economic issues, and, if all else fails, he can always bribe them with all that money he has. As for trying to speak directly to women's issues, enterAnne Romney, who her husband says pretty much tells him everything he needs to know about the issues most acutely affecting American women today. Mittens told reporters on Wednesday,

[Ann] reports to me regularly that the issue women care about most is the economy, and getting good jobs for their kids and for themselves. They are concerned about gasoline prices, the cost of getting to and from work, taking their kids to school or to practice and so forth after school. That is what women care about in this country, and my vision is to get America working again.

Referring all those tricky women's issues questions to his wife might demonstrate an endearing sort of spousal respect if it weren't so painfully clear that Mitt Romney's using his wife's purported expertise as a never-ending lifeline, tugging on it whenever somebody asks him to demonstrate how he'd address the concerns of half of the American voting public. Maybe his positions are still undercooked and, as soon as Romney banishes Rick Santorum the nether region from whence he came, we can expect a very polished Romney speech about how he, as a matter of fact, is so into women's rights and sexual liberation that he organized a corporate takeover of the free love movement and fired all of its least productive members.

Think of Romney's halting overtures to women this way: you're at a high school dance when the strapping young Mitt Romney — captain of the fencing and water polo teams as well as president and founder of your school's amateur apiarist society. In other words, irresistible. You've spent the night fending off that unbearable mouth-breather Newt Gingrich, the Santorum kid who's homeschooled but shows up to dances anyway for some weird reason, and Ron Paul, the pimply editor of the school's student paper. You've been waiting for Mitt Romney to make his move and it finally looks like, after spending a long time amongst his water polo comrades, he's heading your way, flashing that straight, affluent smile at you. On the way over, he trips a few times, which makes you think that he really ought to watch where he's going, but it's no big deal, really — everyone trips. Then he trips really bad and slams his face into the hardwood floor of the multi-purpose room and you think for one panicked moment, "He's dead." But he's not dead — he's just missing his two front teeth and bleeding all over his button-up. When he finally reaches you, he hand hovers over your shoulders and says, "I really admire your fashionable hairstyle. It's ‘hip,' as the kids say these days. I wonder — would you like to dance? I've taken an informal poll of this little gathering and, though they've told me that there's at least a 70 percent you'll turn me down, I think you might change your mind if we took a ride one and a half times around the school in my father's Rolls Royce. Then, if you're willing, I'd like us to do the foxtrot. That would be just wonderful."

Challenges facing Romney in wooing female voters [AP]