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On the offensive on women's rights

<p>How do we know President Obama believes he has the advantage on hot-button, culture-war issues?</p>

How do we know President Obama believes he has the advantage on hot-button, culture-war issues? Because he's not afraid to take the offensive, running ads like these.

This spot, titled "Troubled," was launched over the weekend by the Obama campaign, and will air in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.

A spot like this serves more than one purpose, of course. When it comes to defining Romney, ads like these dispel the notion that the former Massachusetts governor is a moderate -- voters, especially women voters, who may have heard about Romney's pro-choice past may benefit from learning the whole story.

But let's not miss the forest for the trees. This new campaign ad hammers Romney for wanting to overturn Roe, outlaw abortions, and scrap aid to Planned Parenthood -- and Obama's re-election campaign wouldn't put a spot like this together unless it knew the American mainstream agrees with the president's position.

Indeed, it's of particular interest that the spot will be airing in Virginia, a Southern state where social issues tend to cut against Democrats, but where state Republicans drew national outrage for pushing a forced-vaginal-ultrasound proposal.

Will the 2012 race be defined by the culture war? Almost certainly not. But there are still plenty of voters who care deeply about social issues, and who were outraged by the "war on women" agenda pushed by GOP officials for much of the year. Obama and his team clearly believe they have the upper hand on reproductive rights this year, and the fact that Democrats are on the offensive speaks volumes about the efficacy (or lack thereof) of the right's anti-choice, anti-contraception, anti-Planned Parenthood agenda of late.