UPDATE 1-Obama courts women voters on West Coast tour

* Polls show razor-thin leads for Boxer, Murray

* Obama to hold backyard event focusing on women, economy

* Western states may be crucial to control of U.S. Senate
(Adds release of study on women and economy)

By Caren Bohan

SEATTLE, Oct 21 (BestGrowthStock) – President Barack Obama will aim
his economic message at women voters as he campaigns on the
West Coast for two female candidates crucial to Democrats’
chances of keeping their fragile majority in the U.S. Senate.

Obama will try to bolster incumbent Senators Patty Murray
of Washington and Barbara Boxer of California with rallies and
fund-raisers over the next two days.

Polls have shown an erosion in the slight leads held by the
two Democratic candidates to razor-thin margins, with less than
two weeks left before the Nov. 2 congressional elections.

Obama is seeking to rev up core Democratic voters and
targeting women, who vote Democratic in higher percentages than
male voters, is part of that strategy.

“Our mission in the last two weeks is to get people
energized and understanding that there are real stakes in this
election and that it’s important to participate,” said senior
White House adviser David Axelrod.

“There is a Democratic president and there is a Democratic
Congress now and it’s easy …. to be complacent,” Axelrod
said, adding that it is hard for supporters to “imagine the
potential scenarios if the vote goes the other way.”

Obama will hold a backyard discussion on women and the
economy in Seattle on Thursday that will coincide with the
release of a White House report analyzing the effects of the
president’s policies on women.

“Women and girls have been a focus of this administration
from the very start. Economic issues are women’s issues.
Healthcare is a woman’s issue,” senior White House aide Valerie
Jarrett told reporters.

The report from the White House National Economic Council
showed women are a growing share of the U.S. workforce, making
up nearly 50 percent of workers and were increasingly
breadwinners for their families.

It said because of that, the recession has affected women
more severely than other downturns but it also asserted that
Obama’s policies, like healthcare reform, were helping women.

“The best thing for the Democrats to do is probably focus
on the economy and jobs and the class issue,” said Lara Brown,
professor of political science at Villanova University in
Philadelphia. “They’re probably better off attracting pretty
much everyone in this electorate by focusing on how they are
helping with jobs and the economy.”

Wins by Republicans in the Washington state and California
Senate races could spell disaster for Obama’s Democrats. They
are already forecast to lose their dominance in the House of
Representatives and are focused on protecting their majority in
the Senate.

Obama’s popularity and that of his fellow Democrats has
suffered amid discontent over the sluggish economy, 9.6 percent
unemployment rate and $1.3 trillion U.S. budget deficit.

Obama accuses Republicans of having “amnesia” and has been
reminding voters that the economic crisis began under his
Republican predecessor, President George W. Bush.

At a rally in Portland, Oregon for Democratic gubernatorial
candidate John Kitzhaber, Obama underscored his closing
argument to voters — a warning that Republican victories would
put at risk his signature achievements, including healthcare
and financial reform. Republicans have vowed to repeal those
initiatives.

“We don’t want them rolling back health reform so insurance
companies can deny you coverage because you’re sick,” Obama
told a rally of more than 8,000 people. “We don’t want them
rolling back Wall Street reform so now credit card companies
can go back to hitting you with hidden fees.”

After the Seattle event, Obama will travel to San Francisco
and then attend a rally for Boxer in Los Angeles on Friday. He
then heads to Nevada to campaign for Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid, who is in a virtual tie in polls with his
Republican challenger, Sharron Angle.

Wrapping up his tour on Saturday in Minnesota, Obama will
campaign for a gubernatorial candidate and raise money for
House candidates in the state.

Republicans, who have 41 seats in the 100-member Senate,
already hold commanding leads in races for Democratic seats in
North Dakota, Arkansas and Indiana. That leaves them needing
wins in seven of eight toss-up Senate races — California,
Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Illinois
and West Virginia — to regain Senate control.
(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Jeff Mason in
Washington)
(Writing by Caren Bohan; Editing by Chris Wilson)
([email protected]; +1 202 898 8300; Reuters
Messaging: [email protected]))

UPDATE 1-Obama courts women voters on West Coast tour