Dustin Hurst | Watchdog.org
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – While Democrats inside the steel security cage surrounding uptown Charlotte discuss animals rights, gay and lesbian issues and voter suppression, Republicans surrogates staged just outside the convention walls here want voters to think about one thing – the economy.
Republican operatives including South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Utah U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz and former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu appeared deep in the bowels of the NASCAR Hall of Fame building here, urging voters to focus on the economy only and disregard social issues they say Democrats use to divide the country.
Haley delivered a particularly damning indictment of the Barack Obama presidency, arguing the president’s attempt to attract female voters to his side using contraception arguments is “insulting.”
“Women are extremely bright,” Haley offered. “We don’t only think about contraception.”
Haley slammed the president for dividing voters on social issues when the economy’s been equally rough on all voters.
“I expect under 60 days of total distractions,” Haley said, perched behind the podium. “Distractions about anything and everything to keep from talking about their record.”
Republicans are trying to steer this week’s narrative to the economy and away from social issues like abortion, contraceptive coverage and gay rights as Democrats prepare to nominate Obama for a second term ahead of the Nov. 6 general election.
As Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney trails Obama with female voters nationwide, GOP foot soldiers continually seek to persuade them to the conservative corner.
Haley said women care about the sluggish economy, with unemployment stubbornly stuck at 8.3 percent, just as much as men.
“I also know that all women care about their budget,” Haley said. “They care about their jobs. They care about their economy. They care about whether they can pay for their kids to go to school.”
On Monday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus began the GOP media blitz by asking if voters feel that they are better off now than four years ago, indirect homage to former President Ronald Reagan, who used that same line in a 1980 debate against President Jimmy Carter.
Sununu affirmed the GOP’s position, arguing that Obama’s fiscal policies are driving the country toward catastrophe.
“How can the country as a whole be better off with $16 trillion worth of debt?” the former governor asked. “There is no one in the world who would say we are better off when we are on the verge of the same kind of fiscal disaster the Europeans are seeing.”
During a radio interview Monday in Colorado, Obama graded his first White House term “incomplete,” saying more work needs to be done. He said he’s taken steps toward reviving the economy, making college affordable and bringing clean energy to the country.
Sununu said the “I” on the president’s report card was correct, but that the word Obama wanted was actually “incompetent.”
Reflecting on his time teaching at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., Sununu offered that an incomplete grade isn’t much different from a failing marking.
“It was the students that failed to meet their responsibility, it was the students that failed to do what they were required to do in the position they were in, it was the students that didn’t understand the challenge they had been given,” Sununu said, likening the president to those students.
“The president gave himself and incomplete because he didn’t do the job.”
Chaffetz criticized the president for not producing a budget that anyone could support.
“How bad is your budget if Chuck Schumer won’t vote for it,” the Utah congressman said, referring to New York’s senior U.S. senator, one of the most liberal members of Congress. “There’s not a single Democrat who’s ever supported the president’s budget.”
Republicans will keep pressing the economic issue through convention’s end on Thursday. Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is expected to speak Wednesday or Thursday.
After Tuesday press meeting, Sununu only offered that Wednesday version of the event would offer more details on a “failed presidency.”
Haley will appear again Wednesday.
Contact Dustin Hurst at Dustin@Watchdog.org