Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen apologized Thursday for her comments about Ann Romney, which set off a political fight over women who don't work outside the home.
"I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended," Rosen said in a statement. "Let's declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance.
"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.
"In response to Mitt Romney on the campaign trail referring to his wife as a better person to answer questions about women than he is, I was discussing his poor record on the plight of women's financial struggles. As a partner in a firm full of women who work outside of the home as well as stay-at-home mothers, all with plenty of children, gender equality is not a talking point for me. It is an issue I live every day."
The comments were immediately criticized by Republicans, and President Obama's reelection campaign also sought to distance the president from them.
Rosen initially defended her comments as "not about Ann Romney" in an interview on CNN and an op-ed in the Huffington Post.
"This really isn't about stay-at-home moms vs. working moms. It's about women in general," she said on CNN Thursday morning. "This isn't about whether Ann Romney or I or other women of means can afford to make a choice to stay home and raise kids. Most women in America, let's face it, don't have that choice."
Romney's campaign has been worried about a gender gap reflected in polls that found him trailing Obama among female voters by as much as 19 percentage points. The Rosen remarks gave his campaign an opportunity to at least change the story for a day, and put Democrats on the defensive.
First lady Michelle Obama and the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee defended stay-at-home mothers on Thursday afternoon. Obama warned that mothers who choose to stay home raising their children deserved "respect" and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said she was "disappointed" in Rosen's comments.
High-profile members of President Obama's campaign had already expressed their disagreement with Rosen's comments, while members of the Romney campaign rallied around Ann Romney and sought to tie Rosen to the DNC and the Obama administration. Rosen, as a CNN contributor, is not a paid adviser to either.
"My career choice was to be a mother. And I think all of us need to know that we need to respect choices that other women make," Ann Romney said on Fox News on Thursday. "Mitt respects women that make those different choices."