Wilmington, Del. (CNN) – As the Republican field winnowed Tuesday, Mitt Romney made an appeal to a voting bloc key to any candidate's success in November: women.
Though the day's headlines revolved around a decision by former Sen. Rick Santorum to suspend his campaign, Mitt Romney barreled forward with a push against Democrats as to who could best appeal to female voters.
Speaking at a Delaware structural steel factory, Romney responded to Democratic claims his party had waged a "war on women" and alienated female voters. Romney turned the argument around, accusing President Barack Obama's administration of failing working women.
"The real war on women has been the job losses as the result of the Obama economy," he told an audience in Wilmington, saying women had lost 92.3% of jobs lost under the Obama administration.
Romney said his private sector career had helped him understand what women worry about: jobs and the economy.
"If we're going to get women back to work and help women with the real issues women care about - good jobs, good wages, a bright future for themselves, their families, and their kids, we're going to have to elect a president who understands how the economy works, and I do."
A spokesman for Obama's campaign called the attack "misleading" and worked to steer the dialogue back to a debate over women's access to contraception and funding for Planned Parenthood - controversial policies espoused by some Republicans that Democrats see as a winning political issue for them.
"Because of the President’s policies we’ve since seen 25 straight months of job growth and 4 million jobs - including over 1 million for women - created in the private sector," said Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith. "We already know that Mitt Romney believes we should turn back the clock on women’s health care ... His attempts to etch-a-sketch his extreme positions won’t work, especially with women."
Democrats have seized on an apparent gender gap in the presidential race, and assailed Republicans for waging a "war on women." A new ABC-Washington Post national poll shows Obama leading Romney among women by 19%.
Romney's event was carefully staged to underscore his message. Rows of mostly women were seated behind him, filling television screens broadcasting the event.
The candidate acknowledged the owner of the steel factory, also a woman, and the 12 female business owners he met with before the event.