On Wednesday, when CNN’s Anderson Cooper noted that “women are seeing jobs come back much more slowly than men are” and wondered whether there was anything wrong with the Romney campaign reaching out to women on economic issues, political strategist and mouthpiece for the Democratic Party establishment Hilary Rosen couldn’t resist taking a shot at both Romneys. First up was Ann. “Guess what?” said Rosen. “His wife has never worked a day in her life” and therefore she was unqualified to champion women’s economic concerns. Rosen hysterically linked this to Mitt being “so old-fashioned when it comes to women” that “he doesn’t really see us as equals.”
Ms. Rosen doubled down on her derision Thursday when she initially refused to apologize for her remark, even as she attempted to cover herself by resorting to the Obama administration’s primary re-election strategy: fomenting class warfare. “This is not about Ann Romney,” Rosen contended. “This is about the waitress in a diner somewhere in Nevada who has two kids whose day care funding is being cut off because of the Romney-Ryan budget and she doesn’t know what to do…”
Leaving aside Rosen’s lunatic hyperbole, the faux pas, a direct denigration of stay-at-home mothers, descended into a PR meltdown. In an informal poll by the Washington Post asked whether Rosen was out of line because raising a family is a lot of work, or if Ann Romney was out of touch with the economic issues facing working women. 97 percent thought raising a family is a lot of work.
So why take on Ann Romney? Because the 62-year-old mother of five is considered a “wild card” by Obama strategists fearful that her winning personality and command of the issues could sway millions of American women to vote for her husband. They are equally worried she could “humanize” her husband, who is often seen as cold and aloof.
Thus, it was no surprise that Mrs. Romney defended both herself and her husband with a graceful ease that set her off from Rosen and a Democratic Party that must stay in attack mode to deflect the election conversation away from the Obama administration’s dismal record. “My career choice was to be a mother,” Mrs Romney told Fox News. “And I think all of us need to know that we need to respect choices that women make. Other women make other choices to have a career and raise family, which I think Hilary Rosen has actually done herself. I respect that, that’s wonderful. But you know, there are other people that have a choice, we have to respect women in all those choices that they make.”
And she was quick to defend her husband against charges of inequality. “Now that bothers me,” she said, noting that her husband has had top female advisors going back to his days as the governor of Massachusetts.
She then took on the first of what will undoubtedly be numerous attempts to portray both her and her husband as the out-of-touch elitists Democrats and the Obama campaign need them to be. “I can tell you and promise you that I’ve had struggles in my life,” she said. “And I would love to have people understand that Mitt and I have compassion for people that are struggling. That’s why we’re running,” she added. What struggles? Ann Romney is a breast cancer survivor currently suffering from multiple sclerosis. Hilary Rosen is undoubtedly aware of that as well, which makes her attack–in the “age of civility” demanded by Democrats following the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords–all the more unseemly.
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