President Obama warned women voters today that Republicans in Congress and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney want to "close doors of opportunity we thought we'd kicked open a long time ago."
"This is a party that prides itself in being rabidly anti-regulation. These are folks who claim to believe in freedom from government interference and meddling. But it doesn't seem to bother them when it comes to women's health," Obama told a crowd of 600 Democratic women at a campaign fundraiser in Washington.
The president cited efforts by several Republican state governors and legislatures to enact laws that would restrict access to contraception, redefine personhood or require ultrasounds before obtaining an abortion.
"If you don't like it, the governor of Pennsylvania said you can 'close your eyes,'" Obama said of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who has backed a mandatory ultrasound bill.
"It's appalling. It's offensive. It's out of touch. And when it comes to what's going on out there, you're not going to close your eyes," Obama said. "Women across America aren't closing their eyes. As long as I'm president, I won't either."
The president explained that as a husband and father of two daughters he has a "vested interest" in advancing rights for women, and would fight efforts to "turn back the clock to the '50s or the '40s or the '30s or maybe further than that."
And though he never mentioned Romney by name, he made clear that his general election rival was in his sights.
"When you talk about how 'marvelous' your party's economic plan is," Obama said, making a veiled reference to Romney's characterization of the House GOP budget, "when you break out the numbers, what you're really saying is, you want to pass massive new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires and pay for them by gutting programs that among other things support low-income women and children."
"When you say we should 'get rid of Planned Parenthood'," he continued, with another jab at the former governor, "you're not just talking about restricting a woman's ability to make her own health care decisions, you're talking about denying the preventive care like cancer screenings that millions of women rely on."
The fundraiser - Obama's 125th of his re-election campaign - was hosted by the Democratic National Committee's Women's Leadership Forum and the Obama Campaign group Women for Obama. General admission tickets started at $1,000 apiece, according to a campaign official.
"We're going to raise money, we're going to raise hell, and we're going to make sure we have a Democratic sweep," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., the longest-serving female senator and longest-serving woman in Congress, upon introducing the president.
Republicans sharply criticized Obama ahead of his remarks, accusing him of overseeing a "Hecovery" that has left women on the sidelines in the economy.
"Women deserve better than what President Obama has delivered," said Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus. "And they certainly deserve a president that is honest with them about the challenges they face."