President Barack Obama pauses as he makes a statement in the briefing room of the White House on Aug. 1, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty

Republicans pull ‘bad boyfriend’ card again in new anti-Obama ad


In the latest attempt to woo female voters, a Republican group has launched an ad featuring a woman’s declining “relationship” with President Obama. it’s the latest in a series of ads from the GOP in recent years depicting Obama as a bad boyfriend and suggesting women evaluate candidates through a prism of romance rather than reason.  

In the ad, a woman in a pink button-down and pearls stares at the camera, bright-eyed and smiling. “In 2008, I fell in love. His online profile made him seem so perfect,” she says. “Smart, handsome, charming, articulate, all the right values. I trusted him … by 2012, our relationship was in trouble. But I stuck with him because he promised he’d be better.”

“He’s great at promises.”

Still unsure who the disappointed woman is talking about? “He’s in my emails, text messages, spying on me, but ignoring real threats,” she says. “He thinks the only thing I care about is free birth control, but he won’t even let me keep my own doctor.”

She then she forcefully closes her laptop featuring a glowing, full-screen image of the president addressing the country behind the American flag. “I know I’m stuck with Barack for two more years, but I’m not stuck with his friends,” she says.

The Republican group Americans for Shared Prosperity is behind the 60-second spot, called “Dating Profile,” with Florida GOP consultant and media man Rick Wilson at the helm. John Jordan, who heads the group, told POLITICO the goal of the ad is “to communicate with women voters in a way that outside groups and campaigns haven’t.”

But it isn’t a new approach at all. 

Similar words were uttered in a 2012 ad called “Boyfriend” launched by conservative group Independent Women’s Voice

“I wanted to believe him, I trusted him,” one woman says to her friend sitting beside her on a couch. “Listen, we all did,” the friends responds. 

“Why do I always fall for guys like this?” the first woman laments. 

In a 30-second ad by the Republican National Committee in 2012 entitled “The Breakup,” a woman “breaks up” with a cardboard cutout of President Obama sitting across from her at a white tablecloth restaurant. “You’re just not the person I thought you were. It’s not me, it’s you,” she says over cocktail music followed by a prompt to “tell us why you’re breaking up with Obama.”

Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers believes such ads may be out of sync with women.

Reducing the relationship women have with the government and the president to a dating relationship when we’re talking about serious policy issues … I think these women voters feel they have a more complex relationship, and I’m not sure that’s really being understood,” she said.

Walsh said this is just one problem Republicans are facing when it comes to attracting the women’s vote. “Because they don’t have as many women in leadership who can be the voices and faces of the party who are at the table, it becomes a circular problem,” Walsh said. 

Republicans are still climbing out of the 2012 campaign cycle where the phrase “war on women” was coined, actively seeking new ways to recruit women voters. But though the party has made it a crucial 2014 goal to try and close the gender gap, even researching talking points on how to relate to women more effectively, they may need to find a new strategy.