With one week to go until Election Day, the Elk Grove Democrat brought in activist Sandra Fluke to speak to supporters, and launched a new television spot attacking GOP Rep. Dan Lungren on his positions on abortion and access to contraception.
Bera framed the issue as a personal one when speaking to supporters at his Elk Grove campaign office this morning, citing his experiences as a doctor and a father to a teenage girl. But he also slammed the Republican-controlled Congress for "rolling back" health care access for women while the economy is in rough shape, calling such actions the "greatest travesty."
"They've forgotten what they were elected to do," he said.
Bera's offensive on women's issues comes as the two-time rivals' second fight to represent a suburban Sacramento swing seat enters the final stretch. Lungren won the 2010 race by seven percentage points, but a closer registration in the wake of redistricting, the expectation for higher turnout in a presidential election year and heavy spending from outside groups has made this year's race one of the country's most competitive congressional contests.
Fluke, who became a nationally known women's rights advocate and Democratic campaign surrogate after House Republicans blocked her from testifying at a hearing on birth control, cited the closeness of the race in her remarks.
"I wanted to be here in the greater Sacramento area because this race is so close and because there is such an extreme and credible difference between Dr. Bera and his stand for women's health and Rep Lungren's absolutely dismal record on this... it is shameful," she told supporters ahead of a phone bank targeting female voters.
Lungren campaign strategist Rob Stutzman accused the rival campaign of "distorting Lungren's record." He dismissed their approach as a "clear indication (Bera and his supporters) don't want to talk about the economy."
"It's a very desperate narrow strategy and I think pretty good confirmation that the broader issues of taxes and the economy that Republicans, including Lungren, are talking about have much more broader appeal," he said.
Bera's new 30-second ad attacks Lungren for wanting to outlaw abortion even in cases of rape and incest, a claim based on actions the Gold River Republican took when he previously served in Congress in the 1980s. His more recent record includes votes for anti-abortion legislation that allowed for the procedure in such circumstances.
It also says he tried to change the definition of rape, a reference to legislation that sought to limit certain federal funding for abortions involving pregnancies caused by "forcible" rape. Lungren, who was an original cosponsor of the legislation, has said he requested that the "forcible" be taken out of the measure once he reviewed the bill language.
PHOTO CREDIT: Activist Sandra Fluke, right, speaks at a press conference on behalf of Democratic congressional candidate Ami Bera as Bera looks on. The Sacramento Bee/Torey Van Oot.