(WASHINGTON) — Carly Fiorina is hitting back against accusations Republicans have a so-called “war on women.”
The former Republican Senate candidate from California has started a political action committee to help Republicans woo women in 2014 — and challenge Democrats’ claims that the GOP is on the wrong side of women’s issues.
The Unlocking Potential Project will recruit Republican women to reach undecided female voters “wherever women gather,” Fiorina said.
“All politics is personal,” said Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO. “Whether they’re single or married, women are most influenced by women they know.”
In its 2012 election postmortem, the Republican National Committee called for a “more aggressive response” to Democrats’ claims that Republican positions on women’s issues amounted to a “war on women.”
Women favored the Democratic ticket by 11 percentage points in the 2012 presidential election, including two-thirds of single women, according to the ABC News exit poll. (Mitt Romney received a slight majority of married women voters.)
“We know there’s a gender gap,” Fiorina said. “There’s a lot of evidence that we have ground to make up.”
Fiorina, who lost a bid in 2010 to unseat Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., decided to start the group after receiving positive feedback on her speech at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference, where she claimed Democrats’ attacks “insult” women by “thinking all they care about is reproductive rights.”
“The ‘long arm of the Republican Party’ is not reaching into women’s bodies,” Fiorina said Wednesday, referencing comments made by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., following the Supreme Court’s ruling Monday to allow family-owned companies to religiously object to providing contraceptive coverage to employees under Obamacare.
“It’s shameless, baseless, propaganda,” Fiorina said.
Initial plans call for grassroots outreach in six states with competitive Senate races — Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Virginia — with the help of databases from RNC and other GOP operations.
But Fiorina also has her eye on making an impact in 2016.
“We want to make an appreciable difference in 2014,” Fiorina said. “Once you have people activated in the political process, they tend to stay that way.”
Fiorina’s group is one of several to emerge after 2012 to recalibrate the GOP’s image with women: RightNOW PAC works to build support for Republican female candidates, while Project Grow recruits and grooms women to run for office.
Republicans are also optimistic about their chances of adding more female members to their House conference in 2014, and are focusing on a number of promising female candidates in California, Utah and Virginia.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Stephen Collinson, CNN
Tom LoBianco, CNN
Eugene Scott, CNN