ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
CHARLOTTE —Actress Ashley Judd is a Democratic delegate for Tennessee, but she knew the real battle for the presidency will take place in Ohio.
She walked the short distance from where her state was meeting to the Ohio delegation’s breakfast Tuesday and took a page from the script of her action movies to take fire at Republican nominee Mitt Romney, his running mate Paul Ryan, and U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, of Missouri.
Women will play a prominent role in the 2012 Democratic National Convention that began Tuesday as it attempts to make its case that the Republican party has waged “war on women.”
“What I’ve always figured is that if we make medically accurate sex education available to boys and girls and to women and men, and we make modern family planning available to them, we prevent unintended pregnancies,” Ms. Judd told the small crowd.
“And as we prevent unintended pregnancies, we make the need for abortion, except in cases of rape and incest and to save the life of the mother obsolete,” she said.
Then she took aim at Mr. Akin, whose remarks suggesting that a woman’s body can shut down to prevent pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape” ignited a firestorm and handed President Obama’s re-election campaign ammunition to use against the top of the GOP ticket.
While the Democratic platform adopted Tuesday night maintains its pro-choice plank, Republicans resisted changing their anti-abortion plank last week to add exceptions for rape and incest.
“…(W)hat we know is that, at any time in any relationship at any age and in any place, rape is rape. Period,” Ms. Judd said. “One of my great concerns looking at Governor Romney’s campaign and watching some of the convention last week is the scrambling that they attempted to do to distance themselves from Mr. Akins’ remarks when we all know that Paul Ryan supported him in that proposed legislation, which included attempting to narrow the definition of rape.
“I don’t know about y’all, but I’m uncomfortable with that,” she said.
Mr. Akin subsequently apologized for his comments.
“Republicans have been clear in stating that Congressman Akin’s comments were wrong and have no place in today’s rational political discourse,” said Catherine Gatewood, spokesman for the Republican National Committee.
Polls put Tennessee in Mr. Romney’s column, but Ohio remains very much in play, the chief reason that the Buckeye delegation has prime seats near the stage on the convention floor and a number of Ohioans, including Gov. Ted Strickland, have been given speaking slots.
“These 88 counties that you represent are ground zero in the 2012 campaign,” Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the Democratic National Committee, said. “There is absolutely no path to the White House for Mitt Romney that doesn’t run through Ohio, and, therefore, Mitt Romney can’t get to the White House…”
Michael Friedman, a Democratic State Central committeeman from Toledo attending his second convention as a delegate, said Ms. Judd’s message resonated with the Ohio delegation, even if it came from a celebrity rather than the usual mix of elected officials.
“She’s from the conservative South,” he said. “Shame on the Republican Party for what they’re doing with women’s issues.”
The delegation also heard from Mr. Obama’s secretary of health, Kathleen Sebelius, former Kansas governor and daughter of former Gov. John Gilligan. She has spent much of her tenure selling and implementing Mr. Obama’s signature healthcare reform law that Mr. Romney has pledged to repeal.
“I watched him and the Massachusetts legislature put together a healthcare bill that, frankly, was the envy of the country,” Ms. Sebelius said. “We watched that framework come together, the notion that everyone should have affordable available healthcare. I think that’s a really good idea…
“And while they may be running away from Romneycare at this point, we are embracing Obamacare,” she said.
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-221-0496.