The importance of female voters to the 2012 vote came into stark view Thursday as President Obama’s campaign advisers furiously tried to contain the fallout from a prominent Democratic consultant’s comment that Ann Romney, wife of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and the mother of five sons, “never worked a day in her life.”
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina and top campaign strategist David Axelrod moved rapidly to try to quell the narrative about Democrats denigrating stay-at-home moms, distancing the president’s campaign from the remarks of Hilary Rosen, a longtime party activist and an adviser to the Democratic National Committee.
“It’s not something I subscribe to,” Mr. Obama said. “My general rule is, you don’t talk about the spouses of elected officials because they’ve got a really tough job. I think they’re off-limits. So on both counts it was the wrong thing to say and I haven’t met Mrs. Romney, but she seems like a wonderful woman and I know she’s devoted her life to her family.”
Mr. Obama’s double-digit lead among female voters is key to his slight lead over Mr. Romney in recent head-to-head polls, and Republicans, led by Mrs. Romney herself, wasted no time in firing back, even as Ms. Rosen offered a personal apology for her remarks. Even before the Rosen-Romney furor, the two parties had accused the other of waging a “war on women.”
The Romney campaign organized a media conference call with conservative female elected officials who said Ms. Rosen’s insult was calculated, and that the Obama administration has been a disaster for women economically.
“It’s insulting that the president’s adviser would dismiss the value of the important and the hard work women do in raising children,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire Republican. “Women have faced massive job losses under this administration and the policies of this president have failed women voters and men, too.”
Rep. Cynthia M. Lummis, Wyoming Republican, said Democrats are “scared about losing women in swing states.” She added that the Obama campaign is using surrogates “to deliver messages about Republicans that the president doesn’t want to deliver himself.”
Mrs. Romney spoke of her battles with cancer and multiple sclerosis, and defended her decision to be a stay-at-home mom.
“My career choice was to be a mother and I think all of us need to know we need to respect choices that women make,” Mrs. Romney said on Fox News. “Other women make choices to have a career and raise a family, which I think Hilary Rosen has actually done herself. I respect that, that’s wonderful. But there are other people that have a choice, and we have to respect women and all those choices that they make.”
Conservatives contended that the furor exposed liberal Democrats’ dismissive attitudes about stay-at-home mothers, reminiscent of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s comment during the 1992 presidential race that instead of choosing a career, “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas.” They also cited a remark by Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry, during the 2004 campaign that she didn’t know if first lady Laura Bush ever had “a real job.” Mrs. Bush had worked as a teacher and a librarian.View Entire Story
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Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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