Obama courts women on Colo. tour

Romney announces ‘Women for Mitt’ coalition

An all-woman grandstand applauds President Barack Obama on Wednesday on the Auraria campus in Denver. Obama spent much of his speech touting the benefits for women of his health-care law. Enlarge photo

Joe Hanel/Durango Herald

An all-woman grandstand applauds President Barack Obama on Wednesday on the Auraria campus in Denver. Obama spent much of his speech touting the benefits for women of his health-care law.

DENVER – President Barack Obama left little doubt Wednesday how he plans to win Colorado in November.

About 100 women filled the bleachers behind the president as he spoke from a podium with a sign that read: “Women’s Health Security.”

The campaign rally was part of the president’s renewed embrace of his health-care law, especially its effects on women. He even has embraced his opponents’ label of “Obamacare.”

“The decisions that affect a woman’s health – they’re not up to politicians. They’re not up to insurance companies. They’re up to you, and you deserve a president who will fight to keep it that way,” Obama said.

Republican Mitt Romney’s campaign responded quickly, sending out emails titled “The Obama Economy: Hostile to Women” and announcing a national Women for Mitt coalition.

Women made up half of Romney’s cabinet when he was governor of Massachusetts, said that state’s former lieutenant governor, Kerry Healey.

“Looking at Mitt’s extraordinary track record supporting women in the workforce, it’s clear that whether women choose to work at home, in government or the private sector, Mitt understands and respects the value of each woman’s contribution to American prosperity,” Healey said in a news release.

Romney also dispatched one of his possible vice presidential picks, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, on a bus tour of the Front Range.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., helped introduce Obama on Wednesday.

Women made the difference to Bennet’s election in 2010, when he beat Ken Buck by tagging the Republican as hostile to women’s rights. Bennet said Republicans’ goal of undoing Obama’s health-insurance law would take the country “back to a time that being a woman was a pre-existing condition.”

Obama pointed out that as of last week, insurance companies have to provide coverage for eight women’s health services, including breast-feeding support and contraception.

Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown graduate student who was at the center of a national debate on contraception last winter, also spoke for Obama.

“Never again will we pay more for our insurance policies simply because we are women,” Fluke said.

Obama dove right in to the debate over whether companies should have to provide women’s health services, including contraception, even if it runs counter to the owner’s religious beliefs.

“I don’t think your boss should get to control the health care you get,” Obama said. “I don’t think politicians should control the care you get. I think there is one person who should make decisions on health care, and that is you.”

From Denver, Obama headed to Grand Junction, an area that leans Republican. In front of a raucous crowd in a high school gymnasium, Obama pressed forward with his effort to paint Romney as protector of the rich because of his support for extending Bush-era tax cuts for all income earners.

Obama said Romney is struggling to explain to voters how the tax cuts could continue without adding to the deficit and having middle-class Americans pay more.

“There’s a whole different type of gymnastics being performed by Mr. Romney than what is happening at the Olympics,” he said.

Obama wants to extend the tax cuts for families making less than $250,000 a year. Under his plan, families who make more would still be taxed on a lower rate for their first $250,000 in income and at a higher rate for any additional income.

The president also was scheduled to speak today in Pueblo and Colorado Springs.

jhanel@durangoherald.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Sandra Fluke, waves at a campaign event Wednesday at the University of Colorado Auraria Events Center. Fluke is a Georgetown law student who inadvertently gained notoriety when talk-show host Rush Limbaugh spoke disparagingly of her testimony before Congress on the issue of contraception and insurance coverage. Enlarge photo

PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/Associated Press

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Sandra Fluke, waves at a campaign event Wednesday at the University of Colorado Auraria Events Center. Fluke is a Georgetown law student who inadvertently gained notoriety when talk-show host Rush Limbaugh spoke disparagingly of her testimony before Congress on the issue of contraception and insurance coverage.

Air Force One, carrying President Barack Obama, lands at the Grand Junction Regional Airport on Wednesday for a campaign event at Grand Junction High School. Enlarge photo

PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/Associated Press

Air Force One, carrying President Barack Obama, lands at the Grand Junction Regional Airport on Wednesday for a campaign event at Grand Junction High School.

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