As the Obama campaign sought to revive the "war on women" theme that began earlier in the spring, the Romney campaign quickly fired back with an ad appealing directly to Catholics and accusing the administration of a "war on religion."
The two themes reflect competing interpretations of a controversial insurance mandate issued by the administration under the new health care law, which will require religious employers to provide contraceptive services through their insurance even if it violates their conscience.
Romney's ad centers on his visit to Poland and shows footage of him speaking in Warsaw. Romney quotes John Paul II and cites his pivotal role in defeating communism, and then segue's to Lech Walesa, the Polish Solidarity leader and later president who was the pope's partner in that effort. The text of the ad notes that Walesa endorsed Romney during his visit to Poland.
Obama was scheduled to be introduced at a Colorado event by Sandra Fluke, whose testimony at a congressional hearing in favor of the mandate made national news when Rush Limbaugh used offensive terms to characterize her stance that Georgetown University should be required to pay for her birth control through its insurance.
The choice of Colorado as the battleground is significant, as it is there that the latest skirmish over the mandate took place, with a federal judge issuing an injunction in favor of a family-owned business that opposed the mandate.
The Obama campaign paired the new front with an ad aimed at women, which argues that Romney is out of touch with women's concerns. The ad shows Romney speaking disparagingly of Planned Parenthood, and argues that contraception is fundamental to women's health care.
Catholic leaders have been fiercely resisting the mandate from the beginning. In February, the New York Times quoted Archbishop Timothy Dolan saying, "Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn’t happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.”
Eric Schulzke writes on national politics for the Deseret News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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