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Hill Women Play Starring Role in ‘Mommy Wars’

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
From left: Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, Dianne Feinstein and Patty Murray conduct a news conference to support the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act on Wednesday.

I ran for office because Ive got two children, she added, and had concerns about the soaring federal debt. I know as a mother, I always think whats the legacy, what are we passing on? And hes got such a strong position on those fiscal issues, and the president has failed on those issues so miserably.

But Democratic women, who vastly outnumber their Republican counterparts in Congress, say the efforts wont do much for Romney or the GOP.

They say the Republican brand with women has been damaged by a series of fights at both the state and federal levels and wont be easily repaired.

I go home and what women come up to me and say is why is the Republican Party intruding on my personal decisions? ... Especially young women on the issue of contraception and equal access to health care, said Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), Senate Democrats campaign chief.

Surrogates arent enough, she added.

You can stand there and put a woman next to you, but [it wont work] unless you have somebody really working on the policies that help your family, whether its Pell Grants and student loans, whether its child care, whether its transportation infrastructure, Murray said. Thats what women care about. Thats what Im hearing from women at home. ... Its the policies, its the realities of what you are fighting for. ... Thats an agenda, not a gender.

I dont blame them for trying because they are going to have to do something, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said, referring to the Romney campaign turning to female surrogates. But, she said, talking points and conference calls arent going to do it.

Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) predicted the gender gap would persist.

Whether its equal pay or whether its access to womens health services, there is a keen difference between the parties, and no matter how many people you put out there, it doesnt change it, she said.

And even if Romney does adjust his policies to appeal to women, it wont work either, she said.

How do you trust that, when just a month ago or two months ago or six months ago he said something completely different? ... Its all about who do you trust to stand up for you and to understand your issues and concerns and priorities.

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