OTR Interviews

Are 'birth control moms' a real voting bloc and how will women voters impact the presidential race?

Could birth control politics cost the GOP presidential candidate?

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 20, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, Rush Limbaugh accuses the Democrats of inventing a whole new voting bloc! Here's Rush Limbaugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The headline, 2012, the year of birth control moms? First came the soccer moms, then the security moms. Will 2012 be the year of the birth control mobs? Or moms. Maybe it's -- that was a good faux pas.

Democrat strategerist and pollsterette Celinda Lake says it's enough to really irritate independent suburban mothers and reengage young single women who haven't tuned into the campaign so far -- meaning Santorum and all this talk about contraception, which as you and I know is totally trumped up!

Nobody, even now, after all that happened over the weekend, including Santorum -- nobody is suggesting that we ban contraception, particularly at the federal level. That's a totally manufactured issue!

You, if you are a regular listener to this program, you know that this all began on February -- or January 7th in a debate, Stephanopoulos, the moderator, asking Romney if he believes in contraception, and Romney -- what the hell is this? Why are you asking me that? That's not an issue! I don't care! Said Stephanopoulos, Would you support the states or the -- banning -- George, it's silly! Nobody's -- but it was on there. It's on the record as asked and answered.

And of course, Santorum had previously answered that he thought the states could if they wanted to. He's a states' right guy and was reacting to the question more in a -- in a -- in a states' rights context than he was a contraception context.

So they ginned this up because they do not have an issue they can run on! They do not have the economy! They do not have one thing in Obama's record they can point to and say, You want four more years of this, vote for us. So they have to gin something up, and they have done it here.

And so now they're going to drum up this -- this -- birth control moms? Isn't that kind of contradictory, a birth control mom? How do you become a mom if you're into birth control? ... I know that after you become a mom and you don't want to do it anymore, fine. But it's all trumped up! There aren't any birth control moms out there!

You know, the soccer moms -- if you recall, there really weren't any soccer moms, either. Soccer mom was an invented voting group. And if you recall, the soccer moms were average, ordinary middle class women who drove SUVs and vans. And they just did it all.

Oh, my God! They got up, and the moment -- five minutes later, they're fatigued and ready to go back to bed. They had to do make breakfast, get the kids off to school. Pick them up from school. Go to the school play. And then take them to soccer practice, then take them home and feed them, then go to the play, go to ...

And Bill Clinton cared more about them than their own lousy husbands did. That was the soccer mom contingent. Their own husbands took them for granted, own husbands couldn't have cared less, but Bill Clinton cared. He cared more about them than anybody in their whole lives. And then the security moms, same kind of creation. Now birth control moms!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: OK! So are birth control moms real? And if they are, how will they impact the 2012 vote? Ambreen Ali from Roll Call joins us. Nice to see you, Ambreen.

AMBREEN ALI, ROLL CALL: Thank you. Nice to see you.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, birth control moms -- is there such a group?

ALI: I think the -- really, no. I mean, we're having two different kind of conversations right now. On the left, there's this narrative that women's rights groups, women's health is going to be the big issue this election cycle. And I think there's a real effort to try and kind of push this birth control mom narrative, as Rush was alluding to.

But on the right, I think that this is not really an issue about birth control at all. The people who are opposed to the president's birth control mandate are doing so on religious freedom grounds. And for them, it's an issue about religious freedom.

There's a new poll out that shows that among both Republicans and independents who lean Tea Party, there's great opposition to the president on this issue. And so you're really seeing this fall along partisan lines, as you have -- you know, I don't really see a new constituency here.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, how important is the women's vote? If you go back to 2008 -- I mean, how much do these candidates have to reach out to the women?

ALI: The women vote is very important particularly because among independent voters, women are in the majority. So...

VAN SUSTEREN: By a lot in the majority, or just like...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Sixty percent? OK.

ALI: And in 2008, President Obama won the women's vote by I think about 13 points. So he won by a big margin. But in 2010, women were pretty split between the two parties. So there is kind of a swing vote going on there. And I think that there is potential. If this issue sticks until November, it is very possible that it could be a very important voting issue.

But it's important to remember that women, like men, are worried about jobs. Ultimately, this is an election about the economy. And actually, women have lost more jobs than men in the recession. So I don't know if this is going to be the top issue for them.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think there's a -- we have a Fox News poll on the top issue in 2008, when the women -- the economy was 66 percent. Health care was 10 percent. So that -- I mean, it does show that they're interested in the economy.

All right, now, that's the general election. How about the primary? Any thoughts? I mean, because we have four candidates who are vying for the Republican nomination. Where's the Republican vote? Do we know anything about where it might fall for them?

ALI: Well, there's a really big social conservative group, the Susan B. Anthony List, that last week endorsed Rick Santorum. And I think there is a lot of support for Rick Santorum, you know, despite there's been some talk about, you know, whether he's going too far with some of his stances on abortion and women in combat, even this birth control issue.

But I do think that there are still a lot of women, particularly socially conservative women, who still back Rick Santorum.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's sort of interesting. They're talking about -- I've heard over the last couple days about how enormous number of Catholic women use birth control. And so it's sort of unusual that this would be the issue that they would sort of trying to -- to grab that vote.

ALI: Well, Greta, again, it's not really about birth control for them. For them, it's about religious freedom. That's the -- that's really what this narrative is becoming about on the right. And I think the more successful conservatives are in talking about the religious freedom issue and government imposing on that, as opposed to birth control, the more successful they will be.

VAN SUSTEREN: So -- and of course, the Democrats are anxious to get it over to the health area.

ALI: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: Because it's not -- it's not very strong particularly for them.

ALI: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: And you know, it's fascinating that this has become such an important issue. I mean, it's all of a sudden -- I mean, it's become the narrative in the -- you know, we're always -- we're all talking about jobs for so long. And then when the president ran -- when the president changed his rule in terms of HHS in terms of health care about birth control, that completely changed the direction of the discussion.

ALI: Yes, and I'm still not convinced that this is bad for the president. I think that talking about this issue instead of maybe job numbers or some of the economic initiatives might actually play out really well for him in the election.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know because people are -- people are very passionate about this issue. I mean, the -- you know, the -- the viewer e-mail, of course, you know, viewer e-mail can be very skewed, but people are very passionate about this.

ALI: Certainly.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ambreen, thank you.

ALI: Thanks.