(Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder)
Democratic National Committee strategist Hilary Rosen apologized Thursday for saying that Ann Romney, wife of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, "has never actually worked a day in her life."
"I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended. Let's declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance," Rosen said in her statement.
She made the gaffe in an interview on CNN Wednesday night. The reactions were swift as most of the initial responses took place on Twitter.
"I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work," Ann Romney tweeted to her newly created Twitter account.
Democrats also criticized the remarks.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina tweeted that he strongly disagrees with Rosen's comments and she should apologize. David Axelrod, one of Obama's top advisers, added that the comments were "inappropriate and offensive." And Stephanie Cutter, Obama's deputy campaign manager, said she believes that stay-at-home moms "work harder than most of us do."
First lady Michelle Obama entered the fray on Thursday, tweeting, "Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected."
Rosen was initially unapologetic and combative as she responded to the controversy via Twitter. She clarified her remarks saying she meant that Ann Romney "never had to care for her kids AND earn a paycheck like MOST American women! #Truth."
"@AnnDRomney I am raising children too. But most young American women HAVE to BOTH earn a living AND raise children. You know that don't u?" Rosen later tweeted. Then seconds later, she added, "@AnnDRomney Please know, I admire you. But your husband shouldn't say you are his expert on women and the economy. #HeNeedsMore."
The Romney campaign highlighted the issue in a Thursday conference call before with reporters before the apology was made. The call featured seven female supporters, including Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), a potential running mate, to talk about how the "Obama economy" has affected women.
"I think it was very insulting for President Obama's adviser and DNC strategist Hilary Rosen to make the comments she made about Ann Romney yesterday, that she never worked a day in her life. In fact it's insulting that the president's adviser would dismiss the value of the important and hard work women do in raising children. Ann Romney chose to stay home and I admire her for that, raising five boys, and as she said herself, it's hard work," Ayotte said.
Penny Nance, CEO and president of Concerned Women for America, said that many Americans have an inaccurate image of stay-at-home mothers, assuming that most are wealthy.
"As I pull up here at the gas station and look at $4.15 a gallon I'm getting ready to pay, I'm reminded that people have it wrong. They think that stay-at-home moms are rich folks ... when it is just the opposite. They're sacrificing two paychecks and Obama's economic policies are hitting moms at home," Nance said.
In an interview Thursday before the apology with The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin, Ann Romney said she was "a little bit stunned" when she first heard Rosen's comment: "Does she think women at home don't work?"