Obama talks up women's economic concerns as battle for female voters heats up

With Democrats looking to bolster their standing with female voters heading into the November elections, President Obama on Friday went beyond the recent talk of health issues to focus on women's economic concerns.

“When we talk about these issues that primarily impact women, we've got to realize they are not just women's issues,” the president said during a White House forum on women and the economy. “They are family issues, they are economic issues and they are growth issues.”

Obama’s remarks were the most recent in an ongoing, critical fight with Republicans for gains with women voters in the November election – a long-standing challenge for the GOP.

The issue of women and health care overtook the national debate on the jobs and the economy earlier this year when the president attempted to force insurers for some faith-based employers to provide coverage for birth control.

Democrats have since argued that Republicans are waging a “war on women” because they have become too involved in reproductive issues.

Such arguments included an attack on GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney for saying he would consider an end to federal funding for Planned Parenthood, despite him saying that the idea was part of a larger plan that included several groups to help cut the U.S. deficit.

American Enterprise Institute fellow Marc Thiessen said Friday on Fox News Channel: “If Democrats want to have a war of women by all means. I cannot wait until election day.”

A new USA Today/ Gallup polls of swing-state votes shows Obama with a 2-1 advantage over Romney among women younger than 50.

Romney said earlier this week that Democrats have indeed “done an effective job of trying to mischaracterize” his party’s views.

However, he made clear that women are telling him and wife, Ann, that the economy is their biggest concern.

A separate Gallup poll this week appeared to support such concerns. It found registered voters across the country put federal birth control policies last among issues when deciding how they would vote. The 901 registered voters put first: health care, unemployment, the federal deficit, international issues and gas prices.

The president returned Friday to the same statement he made last month in a video for Planned Parenthood, saying women are not an “interest group.”

“You shouldn’t be treated that way,” he said.