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July 24. 2014 9:26PM

GOP's UP Project aims to fix gender gap

Carly Fiorina says communication is key to her “Unlocking Potential Project.” Republican women, she says, must reach out and talk to one another to push back against Democrats and what she called their “shameless” portrayal of a “war on women.”

“The message is personal conversations and grass roots matter,” said Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, in an interview after speaking Thursday at a GOP event in Concord honoring Republican women leaders.

Part of the “UP Project,” as it’s called, focuses on identifying the many issues that matter to voters, and not just women’s issues.

Fiorina did cite health care, saying women were losing access to doctors and hospitals of choice because of narrow networks under the Affordable Care Act. But she said personal and family finances are among primary constituent issues. Labor participation among women is near historic lows, she said.

The importance of women voters was clear in all the party messaging in connection with her visit.

Before Fiorina even spoke, Democrats called her a “failed CEO” who sided “with corporations who want to deny their female employees access to basic health services like contraception.

“The voters of New Hampshire are smart enough to know who supports women’s health care, fair pay, quality education, good jobs and a safe environment,” said Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

The “Unlocking Potential Project” website notes that Republicans face a gender gap. It also seeks to rally Republicans with an acknowledgement: “When it comes to reaching women voters, conservative campaigns and committees are being outworked, outsmarted and out organized.”

The project aims to beat back the past trends. It will target swing states, like New Hampshire, and Fiorina anticipates a potential return to the Granite State this fall.

Polls indicate Democrats have done a better job of reaching out to women voters in New Hampshire, said Andrew Smith, executive director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

The edge was evident in one of Smith’s recent polls on the U.S. Senate race. In a poll for WMUR-TV released July 9, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, and Republican Scott Brown were nearly even among men surveyed, but Shaheen had a 26-point advantage among women.

The Unlocking Potential Project event at the Grappone Center in Concord honored several elected leaders, including state Sens. Sharon Carson, Jeanie Forrester and Nancy Stiles. Former House Speaker Donna Sytek also attended, as did many local and state candidates, men and women.

Lauren Carney, the state director for the Unlocking Potential Project, said more than 220 people attended, and the message struck a chord.

“We need to find our voice,” Carney said. “We can’t let other people define us.”

dtuohy@newstote.com


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