The White House - and President Barack Obama himself - rushed into a damage control campaign Thursday to blunt the impact of a Democratic consultant's suggestion that Ann Romney isn't qualified to discuss the economy because she "hasn't worked a day in her life."
"It was the wrong thing to say," Obama declared in an interview with WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio, standing up for Republican rival Mitt Romney's wife with Democrats suddenly on the defensive over women's issues for the first time this election year.
Of the "ill-advised statement" by consultant Hilary Rosen, he added, "It's not something that I subscribe to."
In an interview with Cedar Rapids, Iowa, TV station KCRG, the president said "there's no tougher job than being a mom" and cited the efforts of his wife, Michelle, and his own mother, a single woman with two children.
"That's work," he said. "So, anybody who would argue otherwise probably needs to rethink their statement."
The president's remarks were his answer to Rosen's comments and the Twitter war they ignited. The mere fact that he weighed in on the uproar left no doubt that Democrats want to leave nothing to chance in their effort to keep female voters in the party fold. Women, who are the majority of voters in presidential election years, lean heavily Democratic, and polls show Obama holds a commanding lead among this group so far this year in battleground states.
Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, must win about 40 percent of female voters to have a chance at beating Obama, and he's targeting married women and mothers who tend to be more conservative. Among this group, Ann Romney is popular and has been the candidate's chief surrogate on how the struggling economy has affected women and families.
So while the candidate remained silent Thursday, his campaign pounced when Rosen said on CNN Wednesday that Ann Romney was no expert on the economy.