All-Star Panel: Social issues and the 2012 race


MITT ROMNEY, R – PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In 1979, a son of Poland Pope John Paul II spoke words that would bring down an empire -- "be not afraid."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When religious freedom is threatened, who do you want to stand with?

DAWN: I think Mitt Romney is out of touch with the average woman's health issues.

ALEX: This is not the 1950s. Contraception is so important to women. It's about a woman being able to make decisions.

DAWN: I don't remember any one as extreme as Romney.

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," August 9, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: A Romney campaign ad and an Obama campaign ad, two different issues two different social issues in an election that is supposed to be all about the economy. We are back with the panel.

A.B., first to the Obama campaign. They are running these ads I think there were five of them now, run them a lot in Colorado. The president was just out there in Colorado with Sandra Fluke of course who testified on Capitol Hill about contraception. They see that they are trying to stir the women's vote here.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: You know. All of the campaigns like their pet celebrities.  It's sort of interesting. But I think that the Obama campaign knows that it has an advantage with women. When you break down the polls it's not with married woman but apparently there are a lot more unmarried women in the country and he has an advantage with them and he needs them to turn out for him.

So paying attention to these issues, it tends to work it is why Republicans became terrified in the middle of a primary that Rick Santorum was talking about things that would alienate swing voters ultimately for the ultimate nominee, and women tend to be more supportive of President Obama's health care plan. They tend to be more socially moderate even when they identify as Republicans.  And I think this is a group he just really needs to turn out and he is going to work very hard to do it.

BAIER: Judge, what about the religious freedom ad and how that may play?

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the religious freedom ad attacks the portion of ObamaCare which requires even religious organizations that preach against contraception to purchase health care policies for their employees that provide this service. This is the subject of 34 lawsuits around the country. It has not yet been ruled on by the Supreme Court. This will eventually make its way to the Supreme Court but obviously after Election Day. I think it is a perfectly legitimate argument for the Romney camp to suggest that this legislation tries to force the hand of religious groups by forcing them to do the opposite of what they teach. That is a war on religion.

BAIER: You've talked about that a lot Charles, on this panel, Democrats will push back. We haven't seen a lot of it today because they are dealing with the fallout and offensive about the cancer ad and the welfare reform ad. But about having the Pope as an image in a campaign ad, what about that ad and how it plays?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, I think it has a very specific focus target audience that is Catholics, Polish Americans. Romney had a very successful leg of the foreign trip in Poland, although you wouldn't know it if you read the media in the U.S. He got endorsed by a man who we saw in the ad, Lech Walesa, was a great Polish hero and the man who essentially who carried out the work of John Paul II in liberating Poland.

I think the idea is to sort of link that ethnic connection and the fact that Romney was actually endorsed by Walesa when he was in Poland with the religious issue, which is I think a very strong one. I think the secular media interpret this entirely as free contraception and denying access to women as if drug stores are not going to be allowed to dispense them. It is about whether or not you get it in your health care plan or not. It's obviously available otherwise. But they are overlooking the fact that there is a direct rebuke to religious institutions like Catholic charities or hospitals which are now required to do what's against their own doctrine. I think it's a major issue that is understood by a small minority of people, mainly Catholics who were interested in this, but I think it's going to have a large effect on the small minority and it can swing a state like Ohio or any of the other Midwestern states where there are strong Catholic populations.

BAIER: Quickly A.B., you look at these two ads which one is moving women, maybe Catholic women, women in these battleground states?

STODDARD: That was an interesting debate when this flared up before.  There was a lot of stuff contraception-using Catholics married ones, too, who thought that this was going a bit too far. I really don't know – about the effects of these two ads. I know it is defining to the women in the electorate the opponent as totally out of touch is a good strategy for Obama to try to hold as many of them as they can, change the subject from the economy, and try to turn them out.

BAIER: Panel, thank you. Judge, always good to have you.

NAPOLITANO: Pleasure to be here, Bret.

BAIER: That's it for the panel, but stay tuned for some Olympic highlights.

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