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GOP attacks deficit of women
04:49 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Republicans launch drive to attract women candidates for Congress

Women comprise 8% of Republican House caucus; 29% of Democratic membership

Martha McSally, a fighter pilot who flew combat patrols, is running for Gabby Giffords' old seat

Top Democrat recruiter says her party doesn't need special project to attract women

Washington CNN  — 

If you’re a Republican woman, the GOP wants you. To run for Congress, that is.

The Grand Old Party holds a majority of seats in the House of Representatives. Yet of 234 Republican members, only 19 are women.

In an effort to boost that number, the House Republican campaign committee is launching “Project GROW,” a program largely led by the party’s female members designed to bring more women into the fold.

CNN’s Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash spoke exclusively with three sitting House Republican female members spearheading the effort, and one GOP woman hoping to score a House seat.

To a person, they recognize that at the very least, Republicans have an image problem– especially after studying the results of the 2012 election.

According to CNN’s 2012 exit polls, 55 percent of women voted for Barack Obama, a stark leap over the 44 percent who voted for Republican candidate Mitt Romney. And Democrats made gains in both the Senate and the House.

“We saw that as Republicans, even though we were talking about the issues that affected America, women across this country felt we were not connecting with them,” Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-North Carolina) said.

Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Missouri), serving her first congressional term, said she and her colleagues need to talk to women “in a way that’s going to make their life better and easier.”

“You know, I told my colleagues close your eyes, say that you’re speaking to that 37-year-old single mother of two who’s trying to make it to the 15th and the 30th of the month,” said Wagner. “What do we have to offer her? How do we make her life easier, better, more manageab