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“RNC Unveils Its ‘14 In ‘14’ Plan”: A Stroke of Genius, Include More Women In Campaign Ads

When Democratic policymakers started a fight over the Paycheck Fairness Act, Republicans responded by dismissing it as a hollow, election-year stunt. Sure, it was a substantive policy response to a legitimate issue, but GOP officials said the debate itself was little more than a cheap political exercise – which women voters would see through immediately.

And speaking of cheap political exercises that women voters will see through immediately…

The Republican National Committee plans a new initiative, “14 in ‘14,” to recruit and train women under age 40 to help spread the party’s message in the final 14 weeks of the campaign. […]

They are encouraging candidates to include their wives and daughters in campaign ads, have women at their events and build a Facebook-like internal database of women willing to campaign on their behalf.

I see. If Democrats push the Paycheck Fairness Act, they’re cynically trying to give the appearance of helping women in the workplace. But if Republicans include more women in campaign ads, that’s just quality messaging.

The “14 in ‘14” initiative, it’s worth noting, is actually a fallback plan of sorts. The original strategy was to push “Project GROW,” in which Republicans would recruit more women candidates to run for Congress in 2014. That project failed – there are actually going to be fewer Republican women running for Congress in this cycle than in 2012.

Presumably, “encouraging candidates to include their wives and daughters in campaign ads” is intended to compensate for the misstep, while hoping voters overlook the GOP’s opposition to pay-equity legislation and its preoccupation with issues such as restricting women’s reproductive rights and access to contraception?

Greg Sargent also had a good piece questioning the utility of the “14 in ‘14” plan.

Democrats are actively building their women’s economic agenda around the broader idea that women face unique economic challenges. A recent CNN poll found that 55 percent of Americans, and 59 percent of women, don’t believe the GOP understands the problems women face today. A Republican National Committee spokeswoman recently admitted that Republicans need to do a better job appearing in touch with women.

Republicans oppose a minimum wage hike; oppose Dem proposals to address pay inequity (while admitting it is a legitimate problem); and are telling women that their economic prospects can be improved by repealing Obamacare (and its protections for women). Indeed, they are even telling them that the push for pay equity is nothing but a distraction from the health law. Yes, Republicans could win big this fall with such an agenda. But this could also prove another area where structural factors ensure that Republicans win in 2014 in spite of the failure to address the need — which they themselves have acknowledged — to broaden their appeal to women with an eye towards future national elections.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 14, 2014

April 15, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Women | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Widening The Gender Gap”: Prioritizing Recruitment Over Policy, The Unfortunate Timing Of The GOP’s “Project Grow”

We talked last week about a new Republican project, designed to “advance the role of women within our party.” On Friday afternoon, the initiative, which will fall under the umbrella of the National Republican Congressional Committee, was formally launched, along with its new name.

With a stagnant number of women in its caucus, the House GOP’s campaign organization announced a new program Friday, Project Grow, to recruit, mentor and elect more female candidates in 2014.

“We need more women to run,” Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said. “Project Grow will plant that seed that will get them thinking of doing it.” […]

“Women are the majority, and we need to do a better job, and that’s what this is all about,” NRCC Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., said of Project Grow at the event.

According to the project’s website, it’s actually an acronym: “Project GROW” stands for “Growing Republican Opportunities for Women.” (Yes, the “G” in “GROW” stands for “grow.”) Once the initiative was launched, the Republican National Committee touted the effort with an unfortunate choice of words: “We need to be a party that allows talented women to rise to the top.”

This, of course, led DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Shultz to immediately respond to the use of the word “allow”, “Democratic women DO rise to the top. We don’t need permission.”

Stepping back, it’s worth noting that there’s nothing especially wrong with the idea behind “Project GROW,” and I think there’s value in major parties recruiting more women candidates to seek and hold public office. The Republican Party is currently dominated by men, especially in Congress — remember the House committee chairs? — and if the party is committed to making gender diversity a priority, more power to ’em.

The problem, however, is what Republican leaders think efforts like these will do for the party.

GOP officials seem to understand that the gender gap is large and getting larger. The party is not only alienating racial and ethnic minorities at an alarming pace, it’s also watching women become more Democratic with each passing year.

It makes sense that Republicans want to do something about this. It doesn’t make sense that Republicans have a diagnosis that has nothing to do with the underlying ailment.

I haven’t seen any polling on this lately, so I’ll concede that my assessment is based more on observation than quantitative analysis, but I have a strong hunch that if a pollster were to ask American women nationwide about why the GOP is struggling with women voters, “candidate recruitment” would not be near the top of the list.

Rather, the problem seems to be with the Republican Party’s policy agenda. If “Project GROW” brings a more diverse slate of candidates, that’s nice, but if the candidates are pushing the same proposals that drove women voters away in the first place, Republicans will probably be disappointed with the results.

Indeed, even the timing of “Project GROW” helps reinforce the larger issue — the national party is prioritizing candidate recruitment, while Republican policymakers at the state and federal level are pushing measures that severely undermine women’s rights.

Adding insult to injury, Republicans have chosen Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to play a leadership role in this project, despite the fact that she opposes pay-equity measures for women, and voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Let’s make this plain for party leaders: recruitment matters, but policies matter more. If Republicans want to close the gender gap, they’ll need to reconsider their agenda, not just their slate of candidates.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 1, 2013

July 2, 2013 Posted by | Gender Gap, GOP | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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