After Democrats have hammered him for months on women's health issues, Mitt Romney is airing a new TV ad that portrays him as a moderate on abortion and contraception.
The ad comes as Romney narrowed the gap among women significantly after the first presidential debate.
A USA Today-Gallup poll Monday showed Romney within 1 percentage point of President Obama among women in 12 swing states, trailing just 48-49 percent. A Pew Research Center poll, meanwhile, found Romney tied with Obama among women at 47 percent after the first presidential debate after trailing the president by 18 percentage points in early September.
In the new ad, a woman addresses the camera, citing Romney's support for contraception and abortion in the cases of rape, incest, and threat to a mother's life.
The woman tells viewers:
You know, those ads saying Mitt Romney would ban all abortions and contraception seemed a bit extreme. So I looked into it. Turns out, Romney doesn't oppose contraception at all. In fact, he thinks abortion should be an option in cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother's life. This issue's important to me, but I'm more concerned about the debt our children will be left with. I voted for President Obama last time, but we just can't afford four more years.
She questions an Obama ad, "Dangerous," that debuted in September. The claims on both sides are convoluted.
Obama's ad questionably asserts that both Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, "backed proposals to outlaw abortions even in the cases of rape and incest."
Romney, meanwhile, has said he supports the option of abortion in cases of rape and incest, while Ryan does not. Both oppose abortions in other cases and support overturning the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case. According to the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, that's how Romney has always represented his position on abortion in those cases, although Politifact notes that Romney once expressed support for a constitutional amendment defining life as beginning at contraception, which Democrats interpreted as support for a no-exception abortion ban.
Obama's ad does not accuse Romney of wanting to "ban … contraception," although Obama has repeatedly cited Romney's opposition to required contraceptive coverage in employer health plans.
Analysts and pundits see Romney moderating his stance on abortion, after he told the Des Moines Register last week that he would not pursue abortion legislation as president.
"There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda," Romney said.
The next day, Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser pointed out that Romney had promised in a June 2011 op-ed to defund Planned Parenthood and back legislation that would "protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion." On the trail, Romney reminded reporters that he planned to defund federal funding for Planned Parenthood and would reinstate the "Mexico City Policy" denying federal funds to NGOs that pay for abortions or counsel women to have them, and spokeswoman Andrea Saul told The Associated Press that "Gov. Romney would, of course, support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life."
The new ad began airing this morning in Washington, D.C., according to Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political ads.