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Boehner Touts GOP Efforts To Be 'More Sensitive' To Women

Boehner Touts GOP Efforts To Be 'More Sensitive' To Women

December 6, 2013 — Male Republicans in Congress "aren't as sensitive as they ought to be" to female candidates and voters, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday during a weekly press conference, The Hill reports (Berman, The Hill, 12/5).

Boehner's comments come in response to a Politico report that the National Republican Congressional Committee and members of Boehner's staff have been coaching GOP lawmakers' aides on how to campaign against female candidates and communicate with female constituents (Camia, "On Politics," USA Today, 12/5). Boehner said, "I try to get them to be a little more sensitive. You know, you look around the Congress, there are a lot more females in the Democratic caucus than there are in [the] Republican caucus, and some of our members just aren't as sensitive as they ought to be" (Izadi, National Journal, 12/5).

Republican men will face female opponents in almost 12 upcoming 2014 midterm election races. Currently, only 20 out of the 82 women in the House are Republicans, and only one female Republican House member is a committee chair.

The strategy comes as Republicans have lost support among women in the last few years. According to U.S. News & World Report, the gender gap in the 2012 presidential election was the largest to date; with Republican Mitt Romney winning male voters by eight percentage points and losing female voters by 12 percentage points (Fox, U.S. News & World Report, 12/5).

Boehner's remarks also signify efforts to change the party's image after some 2012 campaign snafus, including comments from former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), in which he said that pregnancies do not result from "legitimate rape" (Dumain, CQ News, 12/5).

White House, Others React

Shortly after Boehner's remarks, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Republicans' "problem" with female voters is not "about language, it's about policies," The Hill's "Briefing Room" reports.

While answering a question about the minimum wage, Carney criticized the GOP, saying members should "stop trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act [PL 111-148]" and support the minimum wage act, both of which are issues important to women (Parnes, "Briefing Room," The Hill, 12/5).

Lily Adams, a Democratic National Committee spokesperson, also slammed the Republican efforts, saying the issue is about more than just "softer language" and word choices. "Speaker Boehner thinks women continue to reject Republicans at the ballot box because of a lack of sensitivity? Think again," Adams said. She added, "Women don't need Republicans to patronize, condescend or be delicate about their feelings." Instead, women need the GOP "to represent the values important to them and their families," she said ("On Politics," USA Today, 12/5).