The demographic du jour in the battle between Republicans and Democrats for the presidency so far has been women. Sure, that's a broad swath – a majority of Americans, actually – but a series of polls by USA Today and Gallup showed GOP front-runner Mitt Romney trailing President Obama in a handful of battleground states, thanks in large part to the gender gap.
Romney, facing questions Wednesday at an event in front of the Newspaper Association of America, was asked about the fact that polling showed Romney leading by one percentage point among men, but trailing Obama by 18 points among women.
"Well, I know that our party has traditionally faced a gender gap, and I think the Democratic Party has done an effective job to try and mischaracterize our views," Romney said. "I think that in the final analysis I will win by the support of men and women in the battleground states and across the country. That will be by focusing on the issues that women and men care most about."
Romney said his wife, Ann, has told him that women she has been meeting on the campaign trail care most about jobs and the economy, just as men do.
"They're concerned about gasoline prices, the cost of getting to and from work, taking their kids to school or to practice and so forth after school," Romney said. "That's what women care about in this country and my vision is to get America working again. Short-term and long-term."
Of course Romney's road to the nomination, which continues still, has been marred by arguments among himself and rivals about issues such as abortion and government-sponsored contraception coverage. And it's typically on those social issues that Democrats score points with women voters.
But Obama also acknowledges the importance of an improving economy to female voters. And he's willing to press the issue.
The White House announced Wednesday it would host a day-long forum on women and the economy Friday in order "to highlight ways the administration has helped create economic security for women and recognizes that women are key to economic growth and competitiveness."
The president is scheduled to make remarks with several members of his cabinet and slated to host breakout sessions on topics such as education, health and entrepreneurship.