The Connecticut Republican party is launching a new initiative aimed at closing the electoral gender gap.
The women’s coalition aims to reach female voters by highlighting core principles of the Republican party, such as a smaller, less intrusive government while downplaying abortion and other issues that have divided the party.
The group held its inaugural event Monday. While the meeting, held in a private home in Greenwich, was closed to the media, two of the featured guests, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, and former U.S. Rep. Nan Hayworth of New York, agreed to a brief interview afterward.
Foxx, left, rejects the “war on women” theme the Democrats successfully deployed in the 2012 election. ”The Republican party is fighting constantly on behalf of women,” she said.
“Every issues is a women’s issue,” Foxx said. “Improving the economy is vital to women…and Republicans are wholeheartedly focused on jobs and improving the economy.”
Foxx has offered several amendments to limit funding for abortions and has been called “an outspoken advocate for women and unborn children” by Susan B. Anthony’s List, which is dedicated to electing candidates opposed to legal abortion.
But Foxx said the issue shouldn’t divide Republican woman. “The Republican party does have a big tent,” she said.”We include people who are very strongly pro-life and people who are pro-choice…the differences between Republicans are infinitely smaller than our differences with Democrats.”
Nan Hayworth, who represented New York’s 19th Congressional District for one term before losing in 2012, said the GOP can accommodate many points of view. “One of the goals of the big tent is making sure we work together,” said Hayworth, who is currently running for the seat again.
The Republican party has struggled with women voters. Connecticut Senate contender Linda McMahon experienced the gender gap firsthand in both 2010 and 2012, when polls repeatedly showed her faring worse with women voters than with men. McMahon launched an outreach effort in hopes of gaining ground with women but her efforts fell short. (A Quinnipiac University poll conducted less than two weeks before the 2012 election showed that women backed Democrat Christopher Murphy 52 – 38 percent, while male voters favored McMahon, 50 – 46.)
Monday night’s event is the first of several the party plans to host to reach women, said state Rep. Themis Klarides, vice chair of the Connecticut Republican Party.
“Mothers, wives, and businesswomen have suffered through exceptionally difficult economic times, especially in Connecticut,” Klarides said in a press release outlining the initiative. “While Democrats have claimed to ‘stand with women,’ they’ve burdened our families with record tax increase, more expensive healthcare costs, and oppressive business regulations.”
Meanwhile, Nancy DiNardo, chairwoman of the Connecticut Democratic party, cast Foxx as an extremist.
“The Connecticut GOP is only proving how out of touch they are,” DiNardo said. “Rep. Foxx’s views are so extreme she voted against the bipartisan agreement to end the shutdown.”