HUNTERSVILLE Acknowledging that Republicans have work to do to sway women voters, a group of Women for Mitt led by former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina talked about the presidential challenger Thursday.
The party has a long way to go in talking with women, Fiorina told the Observer after her talk at Sign Innovations, off Statesville Road. She said the Democratic party has convinced too many women to vote based on issues such as birth control and abortion, and that Republicans need to reframe the dialogue around the economy.
I think the Democratic Party has done a masterful job of manipulating women, she said.
Fiorina also blasted President Obamas economic performance, and called for Romneys program of fewer regulations, a simplified tax code, and a repeal of Obamas healthcare reform legislation.
Asked about poll numbers that have shown Romney trailing Obama among female voters, sometimes by double digits, Fiorina acknowledged that the gap likely wont be completely closed this year.
These gaps are not going to be reversed in a single election, said Fiorina. The Women for Mitt group is focusing its efforts on battleground states.
In North Carolina, a poll earlier this month by Rasmussen Reports found Romney had an 11-point lead over Obama among likely male voters, but was tied among women.
Fiorina was joined by three women who worked with Romney while he was governor of Massachusetts, who spoke about the candidates respect for women.
People dont know what hes like, said Cindy Gillespie, who was Romneys special counselor while he was governor.
People say hes a numbers guy, does he have a heart? He has a heart. I saw it so many times, said Gillespie, who told the audience of two dozen about a time Romney helped her move furniture and how talked to her every day when her father was ill.
The speakers, who included Romneys former secretary of environmental affairs Ellen Herzfelder and secretary of economic affairs Rene Fry, also spoke about how they and other women were influential members of Romneys inner circle.
Women were at the heart of the economic turnaround in Massachusetts, said Gillespie.
Helping female-owned businesses through simplified regulations and lower taxes is what politicians should be doing rather than focusing on issues such as birth control, they said. Wed do more for womens equality than Obamas done in four years, said Fry.
They encouraged the audience to go out and pitch Romney to their friends.
Women talk through issues with other women, said Fiorina. She said Wednesdays event, though small, is an effort to go rally women to talk with other women.
Susan Tillis, wife of Republican N.C. House speaker Thom Tillis, said she agreed. We need to start telling our message, said Tillis, addressing the speakers and audience members. Its an important thing for all of us not to be quiet anymore.
The event followed a Romney rally by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida on Wednesday at a steel manufacturing plant in west Charlotte.
Fiorina, who unsuccessfully challenged California senator Barbara Boxer in 2005, has been mentioned as a possible Treasury secretary under Romney, if he were to win.
She didnt take her name out of the running when asked about that possibility Thursday.
Lets get the man elected first, said Fiorina.