When Colorado Senator Michael Bennet defeated Republican challenger Ken Buck in the 2010 U.S. Senate race, observers were surprised -- but they also saw in Bennet's approach a potential template that might be applied elsewhere. Last night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow outlined the concept, pointing out in a segment on view below that the campaign strategy is at the heart of America's biggest political contest: the presidential election. Maddow began her presentation by noting that at President Barack Obama's appearance in Denver today, he'll be introduced by Sandra Fluke, the former Georgetown law student whose appearance before a Congressional committee in support of insurance coverage for birth control led talk-show host Rush Limbaugh to brand her a slut and a prostitute. (Limbaugh later apologized for the remarks.)
Fluke's participation will be of more than symbolic importance, in Maddow's view. Rather, it emphasizes the Obama campaign's outreach to women voters, particularly when it comes to the issues of health care and reproductive rights -- topics that were also key in the Bennet-Buck competition.
In the run-up to November 2010, Buck made hard-line comments about opposing abortion even in cases of rape and incest, and his crack about high heels and Jane Norton, a Republican primary opponent, was used by the Bennet forces to make him seem as if he wasn't as sympathetic as he should be to women's interests. These tactics paid off at the ballot box, with women supporting Bennet over Buck by a margin of approximately 17 percent -- and without such backing, Bennet would certainly have lost.
The Obama team has clearly gone to school on the Bennet-Buck outcome, Maddow maintains, screening three separate POTUS-boosting ads that sound themes about abortion, contraception, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney's negative comments about Planned Parenthood and more. Her thesis: Women are going to determine whether Barack Obama is reelected or becomes a one-termer, and the best way for Dems to achieve the former result is to run in much the same way Bennet did.
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This isn't the first time Maddow has brought up the Colorado Senate dust-up of two years ago. Indeed, Buck's been cited in several recent broadcasts. But last night represented her most complete discussion of its presidential applications. Check out the segment below.
More from our Politics archive: "Videos: Rachel Maddow makes Mike Coffman national laughingstock."