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Obama, Romney campaigns trade blows over 'never worked' remarks

April 12, 2012|By Maeve Reston
  • First Lady Michelle Obama, right, and Ann Romney, wife of presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Michelle Obama and Ann Romney both demanded respect for stay-at-home moms, stepping into a row over the role of women which has got the nascent White House race off to an explosive start.
First Lady Michelle Obama, right, and Ann Romney, wife of presumptive Republican… (AFP/Getty Images )

Reporting from Providence, R.I. — Several of Mitt Romney’s most prominent female surrogates charged Thursday that a Democratic strategist’s comments about Ann Romney’s role in the home reflected President Obama’s views on women — prompting the Obama campaign to quickly respond that Hilary Rosen has no role in the president’s reelection effort.

Seizing an opportunity to boost Mitt Romney’s standing among female voters, Romney’s team marshaled a half-dozen female backers – including New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington – to respond to Rosen’s remark Wednesday night that Ann Romney should not be advising her husband on women’s economic struggles since she’d never “worked a day in her life.”

Obama’s top advisors immediately condemned Rosen’s remarks as “offensive and inappropriate.”  First Lady Michelle Obama weighed in with a tweet: “Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected.” 

Romney’s supporters were nonetheless eager to tie Rosen to Obama. 

“This interview bothered me so much because it makes me feel like Obama doesn’t value mothers, and not only women but specifically mothers,” Romney backer Stephanie Nielson, a blogger and mother of five, said on the Romney call with reporters.

Penny Nance, the president of Concerned Women for America, said Rosen’s comments showed that “the Obama administration does not understand what is happening to American women.”

“I think this administration would do well to stop disrespecting stay-at-home moms,” Nance said.

When asked how the comments of an unaligned Democratic strategist were a reflection of the president’s views, McMorris Rodgers noted that the strategy firm Rosen joined in 2010, SKDKnickerbocker, had “been paid by the Democratic National Committee” and that Rosen had visited the White House “35 different times advising the Obama administration on messaging.”

“There’s clearly a connection between Rosen and the Obama administration,” McMorris Rodgers said.

Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming went so far as to claim the Obama campaign was using surrogate women, including Rosen, “to deliver messages about Republicans that the president does not want to deliver himself.”

“Clearly [Rosen’s] remarks are reflective of the message that the political machine within the White House intends to put out,” Lummis said.

Obama campaign spokesman Lis Smith pointed out that the pro-Romney women linking Rosen’s views to Obama have themselves opposed legislation favorable to women. She countered that bringing out “women supporters who have taken positions counter to women’s health and economic security isn’t going to solve” Romney’s deficit in the polls among female voters when matched against Obama.

“Just consider who he had distorting the president’s record on his behalf today: the co-sponsor of legislation that would allow employers to deny women access to contraception and other health services based on political beliefs, a supporter of an overreaching push to mandate trans-vaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions, and two opponents of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which would allow women to enforce their right to equal pay,” Smith said in a statement.

“With supporters like these, it’s no wonder that women have turned their backs on Mitt Romney’s extreme agenda.”

maeve.reston@latimes.com

Original source: Obama, Romney campaigns trade blows over 'never worked' remarks

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