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Romney Makes Appeal To Women Voters In Virginia


Washington, D.C., is one of the most heavily Democratic places in the country. But some of its suburbs are in the swing state that both parties are fighting hard for. Mitt Romney campaigned in Northern Virginia today and NPR's Ari Shapiro reports they can't say its rally gave a clear indication of whom he's trying to win over in this community.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Before Mitt Romney took the stage, people crowded the bleachers behind the podium. All but three of them were women.

DEBBIE MUNOZ: Governor Romney has had a history of empowering women.

SHAPIRO: The first introductory speaker was small business owner Debbie Munoz.

MUNOZ: Women occupy senior roles throughout his organization including senior strategists, communications director, his legal chief of staff, his deputy campaign manager and his press secretary.

SHAPIRO: All four of the introductory speakers were women. And three were Asian-American. The Romney campaign has been fighting hard for Asian-American votes in Northern Virginia. Tech company founder Amy Liu told the story of coming to the U.S. with $200 in her pocket.

AMY LIU: I didn't have many friends here and I didn't speak English back then, 19 years ago. But I know with hard work that my American dream can be achieved.

SHAPIRO: Marsha Wahl drove an hour and a half to watch the rally. She can't understand the gender gap that favors President Obama by nine points according to the latest Gallup poll.

MARSHA WAHL: I don't know why he has the lead in the polls with women. I think we are more than just what he is pushing, the woman agenda, women issues. There's more things than that. I have a son who is unemployed right now, so I'm worried more about jobs, about the economy than I am worried about women's issues.

SHAPIRO: This is a moderate part of the country, and Romney abandoned the parts of his speech he's lately used to appeal to the conservative base. He didn't talk about the Pledge of Allegiance or promise to keep God in public life. In fact, he accused President Obama of widening the wealth gap.

MITT ROMNEY: It's led to a larger and larger gap between the wealthier and the rest of America. His policies have not worked.

SHAPIRO: Republicans almost never talk about income disparity. They often refer to discussion of the subject as class warfare. The attacks in Libya, which dominated yesterday's news, only got brief mention at the top of Romney's speech.

ROMNEY: I'm excited about our future. I know that we have heavy hearts across America today, and I want you to know things are going to get a lot better. But I also recognize that right now we're in mourning. We've lost four of our diplomats across the world.

SHAPIRO: A protester interrupted and the crowd tried to drown him out with chants of Mitt and USA.

ROMNEY: I would offer a moment of silence but one gentleman doesn't want to be silenced. So we're going to keep, we're going to keep on going.

SHAPIRO: Romney did not repeat his accusations from yesterday that the Obama administration sympathizes with the attackers. This is the second time in a week Romney has campaigned in Virginia. On Saturday he was in Virginia Beach, a military town in the state's southeastern corner. That is practically a different state from these D.C. suburbs. There, his message was much more oriented towards the military, and to the party's conservative base. Romney wrapped up his speech by explaining just how important this state is to his campaign.

ROMNEY: I'm counting on you, Virginia. We have to win this. Find someone who voted for Barack Obama, get him to join our team...

SHAPIRO: And in another sign of how important Virginia is, the campaign just announced that vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will be campaigning in the state tomorrow. Ari Shapiro, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.

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