NOW with Alex Wagner | August 14, 2012
>>> for planned parenthood 's basic health care and safe and legal abortion, dismantle the medicare and medicaid women and families count on. romney and ryan really out of touch, really wrong for women .
>> that was a new ad looking to define congressman paul ryan in the eyes of women voters. women 's rights groups have declared ryan quote, bad for women and quote, extremely anti-choice. they point to his support for defunding planned parenthood and his vote in favor of the protect life act, a bill that would allow hospitals to deny abortions to women even in emergency situations. ryan 's views make him so anti-choice that the national right to life committee gave him a 100% positive rating. in fact, they say ryan has voted 59 times against reproductive rights . needless to say, this could add to governor romney 's problem with women voters. case in point, according to the latest nbc news/" wall street journal " poll, president obama leads romney among women voters by 15 points, 54% to 39%. rana, we talk a lot about how romney does among women . these are not good trend lines. the question is, how much women are going to be paying attention to paul ryan 's positions while he's been in congress.
>> i think they are absolutely paying attention. this is a core issue. i think that these sorts of social issues really raise the question of just how radical ryan is and that's something that's going to come up again and again. i think it will be a huge factor and to the extent they veer in that direction towards social issues in general, it's not a good thing for the campaign.
>> the question also is, you know, when we talk about social issues, we have unpacked or are beginning to unpack a lot of ryan 's fiscal policy positions. the social issues question is one that mitt romney seems confident is going to play well for him among the electorate. worth noting that president obama is talking about wind energy in iowa , expected to him mitt romney hard on that, but going back to the social issue question, can they stake out a very far right position and win the race?
>> i'm not sure it matters, frankly. look, a version of that ad would have been run against romney if bella abzug was his running mate. if it was someone who was liberal on abortion, they would say wait, romney isn't and that -- it doesn't really what. frankly, i think that the whole idea that somehow being, you know, pro-abortion or pro-life or whatever is like the thing, there are plenty of women who are socially conservative , who don't favor abortion rights .
>> it's beyond just the choice issue, too. we're not talking about personhood amendments, we're talking about stuff happening at the state level which is far more i think extreme if we're characterizing this as far as women 's rights and women 's health care than legislation has been in quite some time, and the fact that so far, from the romney / ryan ticket we're not seeing any sort of sense that they're concerned about that.
>> i actually agree with nick on this in that a lot of conservative women are going to go bananas for paul ryan . they appreciate somebody who is so solidly pro-life and there are a number --
>> is this about the blue eyes ?
>> the place where i think paul ryan is going to be a huge drag on the romney ticket is the medicare question and the medicaid question, because women are, when you start to unpack these polls, the only people more hostile to his position on medicare than seniors are women .
>> i believe 69% of beneficiaries are women .
>> they have to take care of their parents, they have to worry about their children who may or may not be on medicaid. women are the ones dealing with the issues and when you see paul ryan 's budget in black and white , it is really terrifying to a number of women . how am i going to take care of this, how do i make ends meet.
>> also for single women and single mothers that are becoming a more important voting bloc , that's a crucial point.
>> that goes to the economic issues because single women tend to have less money, the ledbetter act goes to the question of whether you can enforce pay equity in the courts and the people who have less money and are single tend to rely more on government health care and assistance. i think the other counterpoint to mr. confessore is that there's also the question of romney 1.0 and 2.0. nick's right, this is not going to be the kind of social issues election we have seen in the past in a national race, but if ryan looks like this uber-conservative validation of romney 2.0, romney from the primaries, romney , who has changed all these positions, that is a connective tissue with all the other ways that he is coming down to the right.
>> speaking of mitt romney , the presumptive republican presidential nominee is now speaking at an ohio coal mine , there to highlight how his energy policy differs from that of the president. it's interesting because we are talking about the big issues which is fiscal policy , budget, social programs, the american social safety net , women 's issues, social issues, and the two folks running for the highest office in the land are talking about wind energy , which certainly is not an unimportant thing, but if you talk about what's on the mind of voters, i don't think --
>> well, in iowa , it's a big deal . there's a lot of wind farms and jobs there.
>> exactly. if you talk about winning iowa , that's a different story entirely. i think ari, to your point, patricia, to yours, too, on face value, i understand how conservative women or single working women may think paul ryan is trying to clean this up, he really cares about fiscal priorities. then once you unpack the suitcase and then you have someone like mitt romney who again has not supported lily ledbetter. you have not only the contraception mandate but ryan co-sponsored a bill to give fetuses personhood rights. he's voted at least four times to defund planned parenthood . these are ways, this is not as joe biden is want to say, your father's republican party or your grandfather's republican party .
>> it is standard republican fare in 2012 . this is right up the middle for the republican party , the way the majority of house republicans voted on all of these issues. we have seen ryan has actually been loathe to take a different path from house republicans over the years and this is really no exception. but i don't think any republican on this ticket would have had to check those boxes. that's why somebody like condoleezza rice was a total nonstarter. paul ryan is just playing straight up the middle to whoever was going to be on this ticket when it comes to the life issue but i think it's the economic policies that are really going to get this ticket in trouble.
>> i don't think alex is asking whether this is in line with the house republicans who have the lowest approval rating of any congress in the history of approval ratings . that's major. i think what you're getting at is does this work in iowa , in florida, even in texas, where grassroots tea party republicans buck the establishment, bucked the republican leadership and went with somebody different, somebody who is a conservative, i wouldn't diminish that at all, but i don't think he ran in texas on granting personhood to a fetus. that was not his focus. the problem with paul ryan will be this radification of all those questions.
>> you can bet, though, that the obama campaign is using a microtargeted strategy to go at women , to go at minorities, to go at young people and this is certainly going to be a plank in that. they have as we have said a couple times on this show, a few tools in the arsenal with which to fight. we have to go to break. next monday, "now" and specifically i will host a special on women in politics . we will look at why we are underrepresented in today's government and what can be done to inspire younger generations of women . our lineup includes senator gillibrand and elizabeth warren . that is must-see tv, my friends.