Female supporters of Mitt Romney take the stage during the Colorado Republican… (Craig F. Walker / Denver…)
WASHINGTON -- Two videos unearthed in the wake of the back-and-forth between Republicans and Democrats over the “war on women” provide more background on presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s past views on working women.
The search for the footage was sparked by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen’s appearance Wednesday on CNN, in which she claimed that Ann Romney “never worked a day in her life.” Her opinion drew a sharp rebuke from Democrats and Republicans alike.
“Even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work,” Mitt Romney said in a campaign stop in Manchester, N.H., in January. “And people said, 'Well that's heartless.' And I said, 'No, no, I'm willing to spend more giving day care to allow those parents to go back to work. It'll cost the state more providing that day care, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.' "
The clip, aired Sunday morning on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes,” shows a candidate with less leniency toward mothers than one would think, given the outpouring of praise given to mothers of all kinds after Rosen’s comments.
Romney’s remarks were in reference to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which was created in 1996 as a part of welfare reform. Providing block grants to states, which are then intended to be directed to families in need, the number of families assisted by TANF has decreased from 68 for every 100 in poverty in 1996 to 27 for every 100 in 2010, according to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities study. Along with allowing for the government to aide women in returning to the workplace, Romney also proposed a unemployment account set up by individual workers to serve as a form of insurance should they lose their jobs.
The Romney campaign defended the former Massachusetts governor’s remarks, citing the bipartisan nature of 1996’s welfare reforms.
"Moving welfare recipients into work was one of the basic principles of the bipartisan welfare reform legislation that President Clinton signed into law. The sad fact is that under President Obama the poverty rate among women rose to 14.5% in 2011, the highest rate in 17 years. The Obama administration's economic policies have been devastating to women and families," Amanda Henneberg, a Romney spokesperson said.
Romney’s remarks aren’t far removed from those made by President Bill Clinton, in a statement released August 22, 1996.
“Most important, this Act is tough on work. Not only does it include firm but fair work requirements, it provides $4 billion more in child care than the vetoed bills—so that parents can end their dependency on welfare and go to work—and maintains health and safety standards for day care providers,” Clinton said.
The second video, unearthed by Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski, is from 1994, when Romney was running for the Senate in Massachusetts.
“This is a different world than it was in the 1960s when I was growing up, when you used to have Mom at home and Dad at work," Romney said. “Now Mom and Dad both have to work whether they want to or not, and usually one of them has two jobs."
Romney then promoted Bright Horizons Family Solutions, a childcare firm that is “not off where people live, but where they work,” and allows for working parents to more readily tend to their children during the work day.
Romney’s campaign has been quick to take the opportunity handed to them by Rosen, with Ann Romney immediately taking to Twitter to respond to Rosen, tweeting: "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work." Ann Romney’s subsequent appearance on Fox News, along with persistent, consistent messaging from the Romney campaign, followed soon after, even churning out bumper stickers saying “Moms drive the economy.”