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MOUNT VERNON, Iowa —Picking up where their conten-tious debate left off, PresidentBarack Obama and challengerMitt Romney battled Wednesdayfor the support of female voters,underscoring their potentiallydecisive role in settling the fierce-ly competitive race.Buoyed by a much-improvedperformance Tuesday night,Obama traveled to the swingstate of Iowa, where he renewedhis attacks on Romney for pro-posing an end to federal fund-ing for Planned Parenthood, andagain touted legislation he signedmaking it easier for women to suefor job discrimination.“When Gov. Romney wasasked about it, his campaign said,‘We’ll get back to you,’” Obamasaid of the legislation, repeat-ing a line from the debate. “Thatshouldn’t be a complicated ques-tion: Equal pay for equal work.”Romney stumped in Virginia,another battleground, wherehe suggested women had bornethe brunt of hardship duringan Obama tenure marked byeconomic anxiety.“Why is it that there are3.6 million more women inpoverty today than when thepresident took office?” Romneydemanded during a stop atTidewater Community College inChesapeake. “This president hasfailed America’s women. They’vesuffered.”Women have been a key con-stituency for Obama, and theirenthusiastic backing is vital tohis re-election hopes. The presi-dent has counted on a strongshowing among women to off-set Romney’s edge among men.Generally, Obama has been stron-gest among younger and singlewomen, while Romney has beenmost popular among older andmarried women.After Romney’s commandingdebate performance two weeksago in Denver, polls found manywomen giving the Massachusettsgovernor a second look.“People, especially women,have heard all this negative adver-tisement against Gov. Romney,”said Rich Beeson, political direc-tor of his campaign. “They sawGov. Romney in the debate andsaw an unfiltered view of hisplans — what he would do — andI think it resonated.”That accounted for some of the gains Romney had made inopinion polling, which encour-aged Republicans and promptedObama and his Democratic alliesto redouble their courtship of women.Even as Romney focused hisremarks Wednesday on the econ-omy, his campaign launched anew TV spot that sought to reas-sure women — especially moremoderate women — about hispositions on contraception andabortion.In the ad, a woman states herconcern that Romney opposes allabortions as well as contracep-tion, but says that after researchshe learned he does not opposecontraception “at all” and allowsfor abortion in the cases of rape,incest or to spare the life of themother.“I’m more concerned aboutthe debt our children will be leftwith,” she concludes. “I voted forPresident Obama last time. We just can’t afford four more years.”The ad marked a significantdeparture for Romney, not leastbecause the ad refers to abor-tion as a form of contraception,a notion that infuriates evan-gelical and social conservatives,whom Romney heavily courtedduring the primary season. Asit began airing, a USA Today/Gallup poll was released show-ing that in 12 key swing states,women named abortion as theirmost important issue. It wastwice as important as jobs, theprime issue cited by men.
Obama, Romney ﬁght for female vote
“Probably about 10 minutesafter the Missouri game itkind of hit me,” Vinnie said.“I was sitting there and I waslike, ‘Wow. I’ve got to playagainst my dad this week.This is tough.’”Sal echoed his son’sthoughts on the game.“I didn’t imagine it wouldbe this hard,” Sal said in aninterview with Knoxvillereporters. “But we’re bothgoing to be professionalsabout it, do what we have todo and go out there and beable to play our best football.”All throughout the season,even with the game loomingin the distance, Vinnie saidhe didn’t avoid talking withhis father, even on the topicof football.“He kind of watches meduring games and just kindof helps me out,” Vinnie said.“He still coaches me. He can’thelp it.”Despite the tense atmo-sphere this week, the fatherand son haven’t foregonetheir conversations with oneanother. Vinnie said he’dbeen in contact with hisfather Sunday, but said thetwo broke tradition and shiedaway from talking aboutfootball.“I just told him I love him,”Vinnie said. “We just try totalk about how he’s doing,how mom’s doing, how thefamily’s doing.”Indeed, the two aren’t theonly ones who’ve been affect-ed by the upcoming game.Vinnie said he expectedeveryone in his family – cous-ins, aunts, uncles and god-parents – to attend.“I feel like there’s gonna bea lot of orange and red thisweekend being worn in thehousehold,” Vinnie said.Still, there will be one nota-bly empty seat in KnoxvilleSaturday. Roxann Sunseri,Sal’s wife and Vinnie’s moth-er will probably watch thegame at home. Both mensaid this week has been espe-cially hard on her, since she’scaught between the two.“You just talk about meand my son, but for her, she’strying to be a wife and thenshe’s trying to be a mother,”Sal said. “So she’s trying tobe strong, trying to be sup-portive both ways, but it’stough.”Indeed, Vinnie said heknew it would be tough onhis mother earlier this yearwhen he and Sal managed tomake it to Pittsburgh duringa mutual bye week to watchhis older brother Tino playquarterback for the Panthers.“I had never witnessedit before, but she is … shebecomes a wreck,” Vinniesaid. “She’s emotional, she –oh, my gosh – she just wishesthe best for us at all times.She’s so passionate and lovesus all so much.”And, at the end of it all,even with the heated rival-ry between Alabama andTennessee, Vinnie said hedidn’t expect the victorbetween him and his dad tomake it too unbearable forthe other.“This is just a footballgame,” Vinnie said. “Thisisn’t anything I would wantto put into his face, or if theyare able to do somethingagainst us it’s something thathe wouldn’t want to rub inour face. It’s competition, butat the end of the day, we’refamily. That’s the strongestthing.”
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Father, son face off for 1st time Saturday
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