Obama launches charm offensive in bid to win back women
President Barack Obama on Thursday tried to win back women voters, a key constituency that helped sweep him into the White House two years ago but has drifted toward Republicans with less than two weeks to go before midterm elections which could see his Democratic Party allies lose control of Congress.
In the midst of his longest campaign swing as president, a four-day trip through Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Minnesota, Mr Obama visited the backyard of a family home in Seattle.
Before taking questions, he told the small audience that women now constituted half of the American workforce and were responsible for more than half the income of middle-class families.
"How well women do will help determine how well our families are doing as a whole," he said, before taking a series of friendly questions.
Later in the day he addressed an enthusiastic crowd at a packed arena at the University of Washington and paid tribute to Patty Murray, the state's Democratic senator who, like others, faces a tough battle for survival.
Mrs Murray was elected in a wave of victories for Democratic women in 1992, which became known as the "Year of the Woman".
"She's helped a lot of people. She's solved a lot of problems," Mr Obama.
The White House released a report analysing the effects of the president's policies on women and claiming that his policies, including health care reform, were helping women, who had been hit harder by the current downturn because of their bigger role in the economy.
Democrats have decided to target women, who typically support the party in higher numbers than they do Republicans, but who, according to polls, are shifting their allegiance because of their anger over the poor economy.
The Republican Party this year is running several high-profile women candidates, including conservative Tea Party favourites such as Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell, who are running for senate seats in Nevada and Delaware.