Hilary Rosen flap: A campaign gift to Mitt Romney
Hilary Rosen likely gave Mitt Romney a boost among women votes, one that Romney has needed. Will the Hilary Rosen lift last?
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THE FIRST LADY TWEETSSkip to next paragraph
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The controversy mushroomed on social media on Thursday.
First lady Michelle Obama also commented on her own Twitter account, saying, "Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected."
"I think we can all agree - Democrats and Republicans - that raising children is an extremely difficult job," Carney said. "And that is true for all mothers, as well as fathers."
Women make up about 53 percent of the U.S. electorate. In a way, the controversy over Rosin's comments underscored the impact that former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum had on the campaign, and the challenge he left for Romney when Santorum left the race this week.
Santorum is known for his strong opposition to abortion and contraception, as well as his belief that religion should play a larger role in public life. As Santorum made such issues a part of the debate in the Republican campaign, support among women for Romney - the Republican front-runner - declined.
"The GOP primary has had a focus on abortion, contraception, and other issues that disproportionately affect women," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "Let's just say the Republicans haven't put themselves in a good light.
"The GOP has moved right along with its evangelical and Tea Party base, and Santorum also drove much of the social issue commentary," he said.
A SMALL BOOST FOR MITT ROMNEY?
Republican strategist Ron Christie said, "The reason this has enveloped the political establishment in the United States is that Ms. Rosen's remarks seemed indifferent to the struggles faced by women who elect to remain home with their children. I think the Romney campaign will get a short term boost from this controversy."
Susan Carroll, senior scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, said the flap allowed Mitt Romney to change the subject at a time when the Obama campaign has been hammering the Republicans for waging a "war on women" with a budget plan that would lower taxes for the rich while cutting programs that polls indicate are particularly important to women.
Social media, with its ability to grab a message and make it global within minutes, helped fuel the fire. Four years ago, Rosen's comments might have faded quickly, but Ann Romney's instant tweet - and the Democrats' quick responses - kept the issue alive.
"I do think what's going on Twitter is helping make the flap bigger than it otherwise would be," said Liz Mair, a Republican communications strategist.
Rosen eventually apologized on Thursday. "Let's declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance," she said in a statement.
"As a mom I know that raising children is the hardest job there is," Rosen said. "As a pundit, I know my words on CNN last night were poorly chosen." (Editing by David Lindsey and Cynthia Osterman)
Making a Difference