Clarence Page / Politics

Drafted into the Mommy Wars

Oops! Just as President Barack Obama's campaign was enjoying a big favorability advantage with women, a prominent female ally tripped over an old unwritten rule: Lay off your opponent's kinfolk.

Team Obama rushed out like a bucket brigade to put out the fires after an on-air gaffe by Hillary Rosen, a Democratic strategist, CNN commentator and friend to many in the Obama White House. Or, at least, they were friends before she said on CNN that Ann Romney should not be advising her husband on women's economic concerns since she'd never "worked a day in her life."

Rosen apparently forgot that a more correct description, politically and factually, for the stay-at-home mother of five children would be "worked outside of her home."

As the backlash hit the fan, Rosen apologized profusely in print and on CNN. And Ann Romney demonstrated her own effectiveness as an asset to the Romney campaign by responding with grace, wit and intelligence. "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys," she tweeted. "Believe me, it was hard work."

Indeed. For supporters of Romney, suffering a double-digit deficit with women in the latest polls, Rosen's comment was low-hanging fruit -- which Team Obama counterattacked like locusts.

Yet Democrats suddenly found themselves on the defensive on a topic they have owned for weeks as they attacked a Republican "war against women." Republicans now came back, charging a war by Obama against moms.

Rosen is not an adviser to President Obama, his campaign or the Democratic National Committee. But the Romney campaign was not about to let those inconvenient facts get in the way of a good attack campaign.

Romney surrogates and other supporters used Rosen's remark as evidence that Obama doesn't understand women or value mothers.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) claimed there was "clearly a connection between Rosen and the Obama administration" for many years, reporting that Rosen, an unaligned Democratic strategist, had "visited the White House 35 times." White House press secretary Jay Carney later confirmed that Hilary Rosen has visited the White House "on a number of occasions for large events, large meetings having to do with communications, things like that." But a visit doesn't mean that she met with or advised the president.

Nevertheless, Romney's supporters were eager to tie Rosen to Obama, whose people were just as eager to pretend they never heard of Rosen. Obama's top advisors immediately condemned her remarks as "offensive and inappropriate."

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(c) 2012 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.



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