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Obama courts women in Colorado, says Romney would cut health benefits

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Sandra Fluke, waves at a campaign event at the University of Colorado Auraria Events Center on Wednesday. Fluke is a Georgetown law student who inadvertently gained notoriety when talk show host Rush Limbaugh spoke disparagingly of her testimony before Congress on the issue of contraception and insurance coverage.



DENVER, Colo. – Seeking to rally female voters who helped push him to victory in 2008, President Barack Obama warned a crowd of mostly women in Colorado that Mitt Romney would slash the benefits they received last week under the new health care law.

Standing in front of a big sign that read, “WOMEN’S HEALTH SECURITY” to emphasize the day’s message, the president touted recently-implemented measures in the health care law requiring all insurance companies to provide free preventive care for women. The Obama administration reports that 47 million women will receive free contraception, well-woman visits, breastfeeding supplies and family planning counseling.

Obama said Romney would slash those benefits on the first day of his presidency.

On the campaign trail Wednesday, President Obama homed in on a group that has supported him overwhelmingly in the past: single women. This year, however, the economy has hit single women even harder than those who are married so the Obama campaign is flooding them with messages. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports.

“He said he would take the affordable care act and kill it dead -- on the first day of his presidency. Kill it dead,” he said as the crowd of 4,000 at the Auraria Event Center booed.

Reviving a debate over contraceptive coverage from earlier this year in which both parties accused the other of waging a “war on women,” the president said that Romney would let employers decide whether or not to offer women’s health services like contraceptives.

“I don’t think your boss should get to control the health care you get. I don’t think insurance companies should control the care that you get. I don’t think politicians should control the care that you get. I think there’s one person to make these decisions on health care and that is you,” he said.

Obama enlisted a familiar face from the contraception debate to introduce him in Denver: Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student and activist who testified on Capitol Hill about her school not covering birth control and became the face of the Democratic side of the issue after she was called a “slut” and “prostitute” by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.

Fluke praised the president for “defending my right to speak without being attacked. Mr. Romney could only say those weren’t the words he would have chosen. Well, Mr. Romney, you're not going to be the candidate we choose,” she said.

Obama’s two-day swing through Colorado, which he won by nine points in 2008, comes as a new Quinnipiac/New York Times/CBS poll shows him trailing Romney in Colorado by five points, 50-45.

While Obama campaign officials stress that they always believed Colorado would be a competitive state, the president underscored how important he believes the Centennial State is to his re-election when he responded to the crowd’s chant of “four more years!”

“If we win Colorado, I’ll get four more years!” he said.

Obama continues his four-city Colorado trip later tonight in Grand Junction.

Earlier Wednesday, before the president's speech, the Romney campaign sent out figures showing high unemployment rates among women during Obama's tenure, as well as a statement from campaign spokesperson Amanda Henneberg.

“No false, recycled attacks can distract from the fact that President Obama’s four years in office haven’t been kind to women," Henneberg said in the statement. "Hundreds of thousands of women have lost their jobs, poverty among women is highest in nearly two decades, and half of recent graduates can’t find a good job. Middle-class families have struggled in the Obama economy, and Mitt Romney has a plan to strengthen the middle class and get our country back on the right track.”