Obama Calls Opponent's Lapses A Case Of 'Romnesia'

President Obama campaigned in Virginia on Friday, making a special appeal to women voters. He coined a new term to describe Republican rival Mitt Romney's effort to win over more moderate voters.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. President Barack Obama says his Republican challenger Mitt Romney seems to be suffering from selective memory loss. The president accuses his rival of forgetting the more conservative positions he staked out earlier in the campaign now that Governor Romney is trying to win over more moderate voters.

Campaigning in Virginia yesterday, Mr. Obama offered some not-so-friendly reminders. With less than three weekends left before Election Day, both candidates are sharpening their attack lines. We'll get a report on the Romney campaign in a moment. First, here's NPR's Scott Horsley who's traveling with the Obama campaign.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: When Mitt Romney left the Governor's office in Massachusetts, his staff removed computer hard drives and erased emails documenting his term in office. Six years later, Governor Romney is preparing for the general presidential election. And President Obama says he's once again trying to purge the memory banks.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I think it's called Romnesia.

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HORSLEY: Campaigning in Virginia and Florida yesterday, Mr. Obama and Vice President Biden both seized on that expression to describe Governor Romney's effort to sand down the rough, partisan edges of his primary persona.

OBAMA: If you say women should have access to contraceptive care, but you support legislation that would let your employer deny you contraceptive care, you might have a case of Romnesia.

(LAUGHTER)

HORSLEY: The president has been highlighting other instances where Governor Romney's newfound appearance of moderation is at odds with his earlier statements on immigration, abortion and tax policy.

OBAMA: If you come down with a case of Romnesia, and you can't seem to remember the policies that are still on your website, or the promises that you've made over the six years you've been running for president, here's the good news: Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions.

(LAUGHTER)

HORSLEY: The president's Virginia remarks were especially aimed at women voters. He noted that Romney has yet to take a position on the Lilly Ledbetter law, which makes it easier for women to sue if they've been victims of unfair pay.

OBAMA: These are family issues. These are economic issues. I want my daughters to have the same opportunities as anybody's sons.

HORSLEY: Tracy Pakulniewicz says she wants that too. Pakulniewicz was among the 9,000 people who attended the president's rally with her 6-and-a-half year old daughter in tow.

TRACY PAKULNIEWICZ: As a single mom, I know I get judged differently when I go into client meetings. And I hope that when my daughter is older, she will be earning the same dollar that's equal to a man's dollar.

HORSLEY: The president contends that Governor Romney's policies are better suited to the 1950s than the 21st century. Evelyn Wilson grew up in the '50s. She says memories of the changes since then are why she's backing Mr. Obama.

EVELYN WILSON: We were behind ERA, Roe v. Wade. You know, back then I was marching for myself. And now I think of my children and my grandchildren, and I want them to have all these rights we fought so hard for.

HORSLEY: Democrats traditionally enjoy an advantage with women voters. But Governor Romney's been cutting into that lead. The size of the gender gap could help determine who wins the White House in November. That's one factor neither candidate is likely to forget.

Scott Horsley, NPR News.

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