Remark about Ann Romney’s work decried as uproar renews spotlight on women voters
Ann Romney fought back Thursday after a Democratic consultant suggested she isn’t qualified to discuss the economy because she “hasn’t worked a day in her life.” The White House, in instant damage-control mode, declared that no one there was saying such a thing. Michelle Obama tweeted her personal support of all mothers.
With women’s votes expected to be crucial in November, the remark by consultant Hilary Rosen ignited an immediate uproar: attacks by Mitt Romney’s Republican campaign along with the disavowals from President Barack Obama’s allies.
Ann Romney, the Republican presidential contender’s wife, made her Twitter debut on Thursday in response to the contention she’d never worked: “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”
The consultant apologized later on TV.
In the meantime, the backlash to her comment was brutal and swift, crackling across Twitter, cable television and old-fashioned telephone lines. It appeared to have reignited the debate, at least for now, over choices many women make as they juggle motherhood with the work most need to pay bills, college tuition and a semblance of financial security for their families.
Michelle Obama tweeted, “Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected.”
President Obama also said candidates’ families should be off-limits in a political campaign, Bloomberg News reported.
“I don’t have a lot of patience for commentary about the spouses of political candidates,” Obama said in an interview with Iowa television station KCRG.
“There’s no tougher job than being a mom,” Obama said. “Anybody who would argue otherwise, I think, probably needs to rethink their statement.”
Though polls show Obama running ahead of Romney among female voters, Republicans are targeting married women and mothers for possible support in the election. The GOP tried to link Rosen to the White House, while Obama’s camp tried, sometimes awkwardly, to distance him from the fight.
It all started Wednesday night with Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney. “His wife has actually never worked a day in her life,” Rosen had said. “She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of women in this country are facing.”
On Thursday, Ann Romney noted on Fox News that her career choice was being a mother, and while she hasn’t faced financial hardship, she has confronted the ordeals of cancer and multiple sclerosis. Finally, she noted that her husband has said her work is more important than his as family breadwinner.
“He would say, ‘My job is temporary. … Your job is a forever job that’s going to bring forever happiness,” Ann Romney said. “Mitt respects women that make those different choices.”
By Laurie Kellman
The Associated Press