Ohio’s top Republicans are focusing firmly on jobs and the economy and sprinting away from social issues such as abortion, gay marriage and family values that have gotten a lot of attention lately.
“It is all about the economy. The president’s policies have made things worse and we can do better,” said U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp.. “Listen, this election is a referendum on the president’s economic policy.”
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, chimed in: “We have a better way. The president promised to fix the economy. He didn’t. We will.”
But social issues such as abortion, gay marriage and family values continue to attract attention. Media questions about U.S. Rep. Todd Akin’s comments on “legitimate rape” and pregnancy barely slowed when former GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum on Tuesday once again stressed the importance of family and marriage.
“The bottom line is that we have a cultural tsunami happening,” Santorum told the Ohio delegation after citing statistics on the decline of marriage in America. “We are fracturing at the very foundation.”
But Boehner quickly brushed aside the social issues. “That’s Rick Santorum, God bless him,” Boehner said. “…but this election is about the economy. We are not on that track (of social issues) and we’re not going to be on that track.”
But while Republicans try to focus on the economy, social issues are simmering in the background.
The Republican National Convention delegates will vote this week on a platform that includes calling for a ban on abortions without exception for cases of rape and incest. And Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan have advocated for overturning Roe v. Wade, proposals to extend legal rights to the unborn, and eliminating federal funding for Planned Parenthood’s preventative health care programs. (Federal funds are not used to provide abortions but are spent on cancer screenings, birth control and other services.)
“Unfortunately, there is a faction within the Republican Party whose priorities are out of step with the majority of Republicans and the American people when it comes to these issues,” said Randy Moody, co-chair of Republicans for Planned Parenthood. “The nearly 3 million people who go to Planned Parenthood health centers in a year aren’t going there to make a political statement — they’re going there because they want high-quality health care. If this isn’t personal responsibility, I don’t know what is.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich told Ohio reporters in Tampa that social issues are important, but improving the economy and creating jobs is the focus of this election.
“The social issues are important but the overriding moral issue in America today is job creation,” Kasich said. “That’s what makes families healthier. This election is going to be won or lost on the basis of who is going to improve the fortunes of Ohio families and American families.”