Obama Highlights Pro-Woman Policies at White House Forum

President hopes to stay top choice for independent women on Election Day

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President Barack Obama used remarks he made at a White House Forum on Women and the Economy to underscore wider campaign themes he has been using to make his case for re-election Friday morning.

After recounting his story of growing up with a single mom and joking that women make up 80 percent of his current household family--his wife, Michelle, their two daughters, and his mother-in-law--Obama made the case that improving women's place in the economy improves it overall.

"These issues are more than just a matter of policy," he said. "When we talk about these issues that primarily impact women we've got to realize they are not just women's issues, they are family issues, they are economic issues, they are growth issues, they are issues about American competitiveness, they are issues that impact all of us."

[Read: Obama, Romney try to woo women through their wallets.]

He also obliquely referenced his campaign theme that every American deserves a "fair shake."

"When any of our citizens can't fulfill the potential that they have because of factors that have nothing to do with talent or character or work ethic, that diminishes us all; it holds all of us back. It says something about who we are as Americans," Obama said.

Women as a voting demographic have taken center stage in the presidential election this week as recent polling showed Obama leading GOP rival Mitt Romney by nearly 20 points with independent women voters in several battleground states.

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Romney and campaign surrogates such as New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte have made the rounds arguing that once the general campaign officially gets underway, the Republican standard-bearer will close the gender gap by focusing on the pocketbook issues women care about.

But Obama's event on Friday proved he's not willing to cede any ground easily.

"Yes, we've got a lot more to do, but there's no doubt we've made progress," the president said.

And while he did not specifically reference Romney or any Republicans, he did take aim at their criticism of his signature domestic achievement, the much-disparaged healthcare reform law.

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"When people talk about repealing healthcare reform, they're not just saying we should stop protecting women with pre-existing conditions, they are also saying we should kick about 1 million young women off their parents' healthcare plans," he said. "When people say we should get rid of Planned Parenthood, they are not just talking about restricting a woman's ability to make her own health decisions; they are talking about denying as a practical matter preventive care like mammograms that millions of women rely on."

Romney indeed has said one of his first acts as president would be to work to repeal "Obamacare," but he has also said he supports protections for people with pre-existing conditions. However, while he held more moderate stances on access to contraception while he served as governor of Massachusetts, he has more recently taken a more aggressive stance and vowed to end federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

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