Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Obama, Romney May Have to Justify Actions by Congress

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Obama, Romney May Have to Justify Actions by Congress

Article excerpt

There is nothing a presidential campaign likes less than to be forced to answer for someone else's actions.

And yet President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney are likely to face that challenge repeatedly during this election season as their allies and adversaries in Congress pursue agendas that do not always make things easy on the campaign trail.

This week will be no exception, with lawmakers in the House and the Senate grappling over budget and gender politics in ways that will put both presidential candidates on the spot.

As they barrel toward the fall campaign season, Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama are both pressing for an advantage among one group: women. And House Republicans may not be helping Mr. Romney.

This week, the House will take up the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, a bill that has already passed the Senate with bipartisan support. The White House has promoted the bill's renewal as an important tool in protecting women.

But House Republicans have balked at the Senate's version, preferring a version that White House officials and Democrats have derided as a way to weaken the legal protections for women. That could set up a contentious debate that may put Mr. Romney in an awkward position as he courts women voters.

Mr. Romney has said he hopes a version of the act can be reauthorized. But a protracted fight over the issue in Congress will give Mr. Obama and the Democrats another opportunity to accuse the Republicans of conducting a "war on women."

Meanwhile, Mr. Obama is starting his week with two overt appeals to women. He is giving a commencement speech at Barnard College, a women's institution in the heart of New York City. And he will be a guest on ABC's "The View."

The two appearances are designed to increase Mr. Obama's advantage among women. …

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