Republicans push "new perspective" on women

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(CBS News) In an apparent effort to woo women voters, House Republicans are launching the "Women's Policy Committee," a caucus aimed at showcasing the work of female lawmakers and touting a "new perspective" with regard to the GOP and women.

The group is chaired by Republican Mary Bono Mack, an eight-term representative from California's 45th district, and most of the 24 House Republican women have pledged to participate.

On Monday, caucus members launched a video vowing that House Republican Women are "working for you."

"I'm a wife, mother, grandmother, small business owner and now, a member of Congress," says Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., in the video, which runs a little over two minutes. (Watch the video above.)

"We are all conservative reformers," adds Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala.

According to Bono Mack, the caucus was borne out of a shared desire among Republican women to better promote each other and their collective achievements in Congress. Bono Mack told Hotsheet that the idea had been "kicking around" for more than a year but that it "took awhile to coalesce."

"It took awhile to make sure that people were serious about this, to make sure it was really a good idea," Bono Mack said.

"I also believe that the leadership became a lot more interested in understanding the importance of what we're trying to do," she added, noting that when she brought up the idea with House leadership last year, she was met with "a sort of glazed look in their eyes."

Over the past year, Congress has become embroiled in a series of contentious debates that relate to women's issues. Democrats have repeatedly cast Republican policies as akin to a "war on women," and have attempted to capitalize on that notionin fundraising efforts and voter outreach alike.

A number of polls suggest that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney faces an uphill battle when it comes to beating President Obama among women voters, although a recent CBS News/New York Times poll showed Romney edging out the president in that demographic. (add link to poll)

Bono Mack said the caucus' formation was not a direct response to the ongoing debates, but rather to a sense of "frustration" over the last year with some ways in which House Republicans had been conducting business, as well as with some GOP policies themselves.

The congresswoman declined to point to specific "frustrations," but noted the desire to present the Republican agenda through "a different perspective."

She says the caucus will "inadvertently" focus on reaching out to women voters ahead of the November elections, but called the notion that women and men care about different issues "annoying."

"I don't believe that there are separate issues for women and men," she said.

In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner praised the caucus members for being leaders "on all issues."

"Make no mistake, these aren't just leaders on so-called 'women's issues,' these are women leaders on all issues," he said. "I am confident the Women's Policy Committee will offer a fresh, new perspective on a vast array of challenges confronting Congress and be an important voice for the Republican Conference."

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