On the issues: Women, same-sex couples rights
Fifty years after women marched in support of legalized abortion--which led to the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973--the protests are back...triggered this time by Missouri Republican Congressman Todd Akin:
"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," Akin said.
Akin made abortion the top women's issue in the presidential race, and, this week, a GOP senate candidate from Indiana--Richard Mourdock--made sure it stayed there:
"I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something that God intended to happen," Mourdock said.
Obama is pro-choice ; Romney is pro-life. Obama supports Roe v. Wade; Romney wants it repealed, and would allow abortion only in cases of rape, incest, and when the mother's life is in danger.
The president also favors guaranteed contraception for women and supports Planned Parenthood, while Romney is against both.
These positions are why Democrats accuse Republicans of waging a "war on women," and why the president--who won among women in the last election-- expects to win them again:
"These are not just women's issues, these are family issues, these are economic issues. And one of the things that makes us grow as an economy, is when everybody participates and women are getting the same fair deal as men are," President Obama said.
Given his positions, Romney's pitch is relatively weak:
"As Governor of Massachusetts, I chose a woman Lt. Governor, a woman Chief of Staff, half of my cabinet and senior officials were women, and in business, I mentored and supported great women leaders who went on to run great companies," Romney said.
If women worry about what government will do, gay activists worry about what Washington won't: support same sex marriage.
It's just one more issue that divides the candidates:
“It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married," the president said.
"I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman," Mitt Romney said.
As the race has tightened, women voters have become the number one target for both candidates.
As for gays, the president will win more of their votes, which is no surprise: in the last election he got 70 percent.