By Thomas Ferraro
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Monday named his party's top woman in Congress, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, as his campaign's point person in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Romney's campaign hopes McMorris Rodgers, 43, vice chair of the 242-member House Republican Conference, can help their candidate continue to shrink President Barack Obama's advantage over him among women voters.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll in May found Obama with a 7 percentage point lead over Romney among women voters, down from 19 points the month before.
"She understands the impact of the economic challenges Americans face and the need to put our country on a better track," Romney said in a statement in announcing the appointment.
McMorris Rodgers has taken a lead role this year in fending off Democratic charges that Republicans have waged a "war on women" by being insensitive to them on such issues as healthcare and pay equity.
She accuses Democrats of conducting a "war on reality," and says Republicans can best serve men and women by helping Romney reverse what she calls Obama's failed economic policies.
McMorris Rodgers last December became the first member of elected House Republican leadership to endorse Romney. At the time, she was also named to head his campaign in her home state of Washington.
"She's a key surrogate to Mitt not only on women's issues, but also on healthcare and the economy," Todd Cranney, Romney's deputy political director, told Reuters this year. "She's well liked by social and fiscal conservatives, she's smart, she's always helpful and she's low-maintenance."
McMorris Rodgers said in a statement, "Governor Romney has demonstrated the leadership and vision that we have been fighting for in Congress to stop runaway government spending and create an environment for job creation."
Romney last year named Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri as his point person in the Senate.
(Reporting By Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Vicki Allen)