War of Women: Working?

Photograph by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

nn Romney with her family in Rochester, New Hampshire, on Jan. 8, 2012.

The so-called “war on women” is becoming a war of women.

Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist, fired first, last night accusing Republican Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, of “never working a day in her life.”

Ann Romney, like about one third of all women last year, worked at home raising five sons. And she quickly signed up with Twitter last night to tell the world that.

Romney’s “wife has actually never  worked a day in her life,” Rosen, a Democratic National Committee advisor with close ties to the Obama White House, said in an interview on CNN. “She’s never dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of women in this country are facing.”

It’s true that Ann Romney, if her husband were elected president, would be the first first lady in more than three decades to hold a resume lacking paying jobs.  Her experience as a stay-at-home mom  contrasts with that of Michelle Obama, who worked as a corporate lawyer, university dean and executive director of a non-profit organization.

Yet Rosen’s words prompted a backlash from Romney allies, most prominently Ann Romney, who made her debut Tweet: “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me. It was hard work.”

Ann Romney, son Josh wrote in his own Twitter message, “is one of the smartest, hardworking (women) I know. Could have done anything with her life, chose to raise me.”

This came as Mitt Romney attempted to start closing a 20-percentage-point deficit among female voters supporting Obama more than him, as reported by Bloomberg today.

Obama’s campaign was quick to distance itself from Rosen’s remarks. In less than an hour, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina and advisor David Axelrod went to Twitter to call Rosen’s words “inappropriate” and “wrong.”

Rosen held her ground: “I am raising children too,” she wrote in a Twitter reply to Ann Romney. “But most young American women HAVE to BOTH earn a living AND raise children. You know that don’t u?”

Indeed, women held a majority of non-farm payroll jobs in the U.S. in 2010,  for the first time in recorded history, our colleague Frank Bass tells us. When the Labor Department started collecting that data, in 1964, women held less than one-third of jobs.  In 2010, women accounted for 52 percent of all people in management, professional and related occupations.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2011 Databook on Women in the Labor Force reported that 71.3 percent of mothers with children were working.

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