The rhetorical war over women between President Obama and Mitt Romney escalated Wednesday night as Romney’s wife Ann launched a Twitter account to personally respond to a Democratic pundit who had dismissed her knowledge about the economy by saying she “never worked a day in her life.”
Hilary Rosen, a political consultant who advises the Democratic National Committee, questioned on CNN Wednesday night whether Ann Romney understands the economic issues facing women.
“His wife has actually never worked a day in her life,” Rosen said on Anderson Cooper’s “AC360” show. “She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and how do we — why we worry about their future.”
Two hours later, Ann Romney debuted a new Twitter account, @AnnDRomney, and wrote: “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”
One of the Romneys’ sons, Josh, tweeted: “@AnnDRomney is one of the smartest, hardest working woman (sic) I know. Could have done anything with her life, chose to raise me.”
The tweet by Ann Romney, who has battled multiple sclerosis and is a popular force on the campaign trail, drew a quick reaction from the top brass of Obama’s reelection campaign, who roundly condemned Rosen’s remarks.
Within minutes, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina tweeted: “I could not disagree with Hilary Rosen any more strongly. Her comments were wrong and family should be off limits. She should apologize.”
David Axelrod, Obama’s top strategist, tweeted: “Also Disappointed in Hilary Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney. They were inappropriate and offensive.”
And Stephanie Cutter, Obama’s deputy campaign manager, tweeted: “Families must be off limits on campaigns, and i personally believe stay at home moms work harder than most of us do.”
On Twitter, Rosen did not apologize, but wrote several tweets trying to explain her comments, saying her point was that Mitt Romney should stop saying on the campaign trail that Ann is his guide to the economic problems facing women because “she doesn’t have any.”
Rosen tweeted at Ann Romney, saying: “I am raising children too. But most young American women HAVE to BOTH earn a living AND raise children. You know that don’t u?” Later, Rosen tweeted again at Romney: “Please know, I admire you. But your husband shouldn’t say you are his expert on women and the economy.”
Wednesday night’s tweets are the latest example of how Twitter has emerged as a new battlefield in presidential politics.
The comments also underscored the political fight underway over the support of women voters, as Obama and Romney this week have stepped up their efforts to court this prized constituency.
The swift and strong responses from Obama’s campaign team speak to how damaging it could be for the Democrats among independent voters if they are seen as dismissive of stay-at-home moms.
In 2004, Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of then-Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, was forced to apologize after saying that she was unsure whether First Lady Laura Bush had ever held a “real job.”
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