Call it a case of bad timing on Governor Scott Walker's part.
At a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor on Friday, Wisconsin's controversial Republican governor told a crowd that he's not particularly worried that his relentless attacks on women's rights might harm his reelection efforts.
"I talked about that in my book, Tom Barrett tried to do that," he said, according to Talking Points Memo. "He spent a month using the War on Women very ineffectively because voters in our state ... I find it insulting that you think that voters just care about one or two issues. But I find that the women as well as the men I talk to in my state, what they want to know was I going to continue to move forward with reforms that will help get our budget balanced, lower our debts, improve our economy, improve our schools, improve higher education."
Hours after Walker uttered those words, about 150 people -- mostly women dressed in pink -- descended upon the Wisconsin capitol building and staged a dancing flash mob, just as a reminder that women who object to Walker's unprecedented drive to close Planned Parenthood clinics, curtail sex ed, push forced ultrasound, and make it harder to get not just abortion but also birth control are still very present and still very motivated.
The event was planned well before Walker gave his speech, but he just happened to bumble over the biggest issue that mainstream Republican wisdom right now is saying to avoid at all costs. However, given that Walker's Wisconsin actually looks a lot more like Perry's Texas when it comes to women's rights these days, the ladies of Madison's National Organization for Women chapter weren't about to let him move on.
"What the Republican women's agenda is to repeal equal pay for women, to make contraception access harder to get -- can you believe we're fighting to get access to birth control in 2013 -- and their third prong is to make abortion access unattainable in the state of Wisconsin," state Rep. Chris Taylor told the crowd. "And I'm sorry to say, without a federal court's injunction, they would have accomplished that."
She also criticized her Republican counterparts for mandating that women undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion. Even though the law gives women the option of a trans-vaginal or abdominal ultrasound, Taylor reminded everyone present that only trans-vaginal ultrasounds will produce the kind of information the state mandates when a pregnancy is in its first trimester.
"Never in the history of our state have we had a more intrusive bill than that," she said. "Never."
And then the dancing continued.
If the Virginia governor's race is any example of how things could play out next year for Wisconsin, Walker is wise to try and change the conversation to anything but his personal war on women. Because if he doesn't, there's now a very real concern on the Republican side that Walker's presidential ambitions just might get buried in the margins.
Photos: Tamara Tsurkan.