'This Week' Transcript: Stephanie Cutter and Eric Fehrnstrom

WILL: Isn't there something patronizing and condescending about talking about the -- definite article -- the women's vote, as though it's a simple and big block? You've pointed right there to one division between the married and the unmarried. I think Romney's carrying married women at this point. But there's been a gender gap for election after election after election. But you know how far back into the mists of American history you need to go to find an election cycle when the Republicans carried the women's vote? Twenty months. In 2010 congressional elections, they carried the women's vote.

BRAZILE: Well, the gender gap has been alive since 1980. That's when we first saw a difference between how women voted versus men, but the economy is an issue, but also women are showing some hesitation of supporting Republicans based on their own reproductive lives.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to pick up on that, because there's a pretty remarkable article in New York magazine this week by John Heilemann, went inside the Obama campaign, and included this quote from David Plouffe, the president's chief political strategist inside the White House right now, talking about how they were going to use social issues. I want to bring this to you, Eric Fehrnstrom. Here's what he said.

He said, "We're going to say, let's be clear about what he, Mitt Romney, would do as president. Potentially abortion will be criminalized. Women will be denied contraceptive services. He's far right on immigration. He supports efforts to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage." They go on in the article to say, you know, they're going to Mitt Romney as a man of the '50s, retro, backwards, that's not where America wants to go.

FEHRNSTROM: Well, good luck with that. Mitt Romney is pro-life. He'll govern as a pro-life president. But you're going to see the Democrats use all sorts of shiny objects to distract people's attention from -- from the Obama performance on the economy. This is not a social issue election, George. This is going to be about the president's handling of the economy. It's a referendum on his performance, and, frankly, right now, he's getting a failing grade.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good luck with that?

CUTTER: Well, good luck with that. If it's not a social issue election, then why did Mitt Romney just spend the last year campaigning on social issues? These are his positions that he's taken, whether it's, you know, giving bosses control over whether female employees can get contraception, being for the so-called personhood amendment that would ban all forms of abortion, or, you know, telling the American people that he'll get back to them on whether he supports Lilly Ledbetter, which is an economic issue and it should be a no-brainer, but the governor couldn't even bring himself to be for that.

So we agree, the economy is the number-one issue. Women want to see two candidates compete on their visions for the economy, which is what I was getting at before, whether you want to build an economy from the middle out or the top down.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So how much do these issues matter? I still can't figure it out listening to you two.

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