DENVER (AP) - Pitching for the women's vote, President Barack Obama said Wednesday that Republicans intent on undoing his health care law would be eliminating benefits for women and funding for contraceptive services. GOP rival Mitt Romney took a potshot at California when he compared it to financially troubled Greece.
Obama sought to draw a stark contrast with Romney, pointing out that the former Massachusetts governor said he intended to take the health care law and "kill it dead" on his first day in office and "get rid" of Planned Parenthood.
"They want to take us back to the policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century," Obama told a largely female crowd of about 4,000 at a campaign event in Denver. He argued that decisions affecting a woman's health are "not up to politicians, they're not up to insurance companies. They're up to you."
Obama is spending two days in Colorado, reaching out to women voters whose support is essential to his re-election prospects in November. He was introduced by Sandra Fluke, the college student whose congressional testimony became a flashpoint earlier this year for arguments over contraception, abortion and women's health care.
Romney was focused on the six electoral votes Iowa offers in a state-level race that both parties think could be close. He told Iowans that Americans must show investors worldwide that they are serious about reining in spending and debt.
"Entrepreneurs and business people around the world and here at home think that at some point America is going to become like Greece or like Spain or Italy, or like California - just kidding about that one, in some ways," Romney said, laughing along with audience members in Iowa.
The remark ruffled egos in a liberal state that is wrestling with the prospect of tax increases and painful budget cuts. But Romney may have little to lose in California. Polls show Obama with a comfortably ahead there.
A spokesman for California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, disputed Romney's assessment. Gil Duran said the state's credit outlook has improved under Brown and that borrowing costs, a major issue facing Italy and other financially struggling European nations, have dropped by hundreds of millions of dollars.
"This is just a paper-thin Republican talking point that doesn't really stand up to scrutiny" Duran said. He said Romney "should get some better speechwriters who actually know what they're talking about."
Elliott reporter from Des Moines, Iowa. Associated Press writers Steve Peoples in Chicago, Juliet Williams in Sacramento, Calif., and Kasie Hunt and Connie Cass in Washington contributed to this report.
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