Mitt Romney is taking his campaign to the general election, and he’s bringing his wife with him.
Ann Romney was the target of a rhetorical punch thrown by Hilary Rosen on CNN last night. Rosen, an MD at D.C. strategic comms firm SKDKnickerbocker and a “Democratic operative,” said that Mitt Romney shouldn’t use his wife as a “guide” to the economic issues women face because Ann Romney “has never worked a day in her life.” Many are saying that the comment is off-base because Ann Romney is a cancer survivor, suffers from MS, and raised five sons. Moreover, critics say it’s offensive to stay-at-home moms who work hard to raise their children.
Both Rosen and Ann Romney were on TV this morning to discuss the issue further, Rosen has written a column in response, and both women are trending on Twitter. Democrats, trying hard to maintain the edge with women voters, are also coming out against the comment. For example, Obama advisor David Axelrod tweeted about his disappointment over the comment. Ann Romney even joined Twitter so she could respond.
Mitt Romney has caught a break. But it’s likely a temporary one.
When Rick Santorum “suspended” his campaign earlier this week, Romney became the presumptive GOP presidential candidate. Since then, he has had to gather support from those who were on the fence or were squarely on Santorum’s side. Evangelical and conservative groups have (slowly and grudgingly) started to toss him their support, but he’s faltering with women. He made the ridiculous claim that 92 percent of the jobs lost during the Obama administration have been jobs held by women. Then, when asked, he wasn’t sure if he supported the Lilly Ledbetter Act.
So Rosen’s comment was a gift that has given the media and Republican supporters the chance to question, as CNN did this morning, whether Democrats understand conservative women. But like anything else that causes a firestorm these days, eventually the fire goes out and you have to deal with what’s left.
Ultimately, Rosen may have to do a little work to repair any damage done by her comments. The issue that Rosen says she’s trying to raise is one about women who aren’t as wealthy as the Romneys; working women who also care for children. From that angle, Rosen is already getting support, which once again turns the tables back to Romney, his wealth, and his issues with women. Bloomberg has outlined some of the hurdles Romney still has to clear with women voters.
The Ann Romney vs. Hilary Rosen debate will end and then Romney will get back to the work of appealing to reluctant supporters. Of course now, he’ll probably make his wife a much bigger part of the campaign process.