OBAMA TAKES ON MCCAIN ON CHOICE…. For reasons that defy reason, a lot of voters are under the mistaken impression that John McCain is pro-choice, or at a minimum, moderate on abortion rights. The Obama campaign is taking steps to educate voters on the subject.

Democrat Barack Obama, who supports abortion rights, is only too happy to remind voters where McCain stands, but he tries to make his case without attracting too much attention. […]

Obama is calling out McCain in ads that say the GOP nominee takes an ”extreme position on choice” and ”will make abortion illegal.” He is spreading his message through low-profile radio ads and campaign mailings, though, hoping to avoid being tagged as too liberal on a woman’s right to choose to end a pregnancy. […]

Obama’s radio ad, running in Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and elsewhere, features nurse practitioner Valerie Baron telling voters: ”John McCain’s out of touch with women today. McCain wants to take away our right to choose.”

Glossy fliers with the same messages fill the mailboxes of women in Florida, Virginia and other states.

The radio ad is pretty hard hitting. “Let me tell you: If Roe vs. Wade is overturned, the lives and health of women will be put at risk. That’s why this election is so important,” the nurse-practitioner says in the radio spot. “John McCain’s out of touch with women today. McCain wants to take away our right to choose. That’s what women need to understand. That’s how high the stakes are.” The ad then plays an exchange from “Meet the Press” in which McCain told Tim Russert that he favors “a constitutional amendment to ban all abortions.” The ad concludes, “We can’t let him take us back.”

In recent cycles, it was Republicans hoping to stoke the culture-war fires by tying abortion rights to Democratic candidates, but in this cycle, it seems it’s Obama who is quietly taking the offensive on the issue. Given this, the message is not without risk.

But I tend to think it’s a good strategic idea for the Democratic ticket anyway. If there are a lot of independent voters and centrist Republican women inclined to consider McCain because they perceive him as a moderate, this is information that may tip the scales in Obama’s favor. For that matter, as Noam Scheiber recently noted, “[T]his reminds women tempted by the Palin pick that voting Republican sets back a cause they care about deeply.”

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.