By Amie Parnes - 04/12/12 06:38 PM EDT
The Obama campaign on Thursday moved to quickly distance itself from comments made by a Democratic strategist who said that Ann Romney, the wife of GOP front-runner Mitt, “never worked a day in her life.”
An Obama campaign aide told The Hill that the strategist, Hilary Rosen, is not an adviser of any kind to the campaign and likewise doesn’t serve as an adviser to the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Gaspard, the former political director at the Obama White House, called Rosen a smart strategist but said her comments were “absolutely out of bounds.”
“Ann Romney is someone who obviously has worked hard to raise five good boys, and she’s made some tough choices in her life, I’m certain,” Gaspard said. “Families should be absolutely out of bounds in this discussion.”
In an interview on CNN’s "AC360" on Wednesday night, Rosen swiped at Ann Romney, saying that she “never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and … why we worry about their future.”
Ann Romney, who has emerged as her husband's strongest surrogate, quickly fired back, sending her first message on Twitter.
“I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys,” Romney wrote on the social network. “Believe me, it was hard work.”
She took the comments a step further in an interview with Fox on Thursday morning.
“She should have come to my house when those five boys were causing so much trouble — it wasn’t so easy,” Romney said. “My career choice was to be a mother. And I think all of us need to know that we need to respect the choices that women make. Other women make other choices to have a career and raise a family, which I think Hilary Rosen has actually done herself. I respect that, that’s wonderful … We have to respect women in all those choices that they make.”
Rosen at first defended her remarks, before offering an apology through CNN on Thursday afternoon.
"I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended," Rosen, a top Democratic strategist and CNN contributor, said in a statement. "Let's declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance."
Rosen's initial remarks had led the White House to also weigh in on the controversy.
First lady Michelle Obama wrote on Twitter, "Every mother works hard and every woman deserves to be respected."
Later, White House press secretary Jay Carney said he had not talked to Obama about the pundit's flap.
But he said, "I think we can all agree, Democrats and Republicans, that raising children is an extremely difficult job."
Instead, "We should focus on where we disagree," he continued, before ticking off Obama's accomplishments on women's issues, including the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
Asked about her relationship with the White House, Carney said, "I don't know how many times she's been here. She is a Democratic strategist. She is a CNN contributor. I don't know how to assess overall her relationship with people here ... I don't know what the relationship is."
Senior aides to Obama also moved to distance themselves from Rosen’s remarks.
“I could not disagree with Hilary Rosen any more strongly,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina wrote on Twitter. "Her comments were wrong and family should be off limits. She should apologize.”
Senior adviser David Axelrod also called the comments “inappropriate and offensive.”
Rosen attempted to clarify her remarks on Twitter on Wednesday night, saying that she meant to say that Ann Romney “never had to care for her kids AND earn a paycheck like MOST American women.”
She also fired off another tweet saying that Mitt Romney is running for president, “not Ann,” and pointing out that the GOP candidate “hired only 10 percent women at Bain [and] now makes up false concern for women’s economic struggle.”
The comments, which came the week the general election cranked up a notch, were a distraction of sorts for the Obama campaign as it battles with Team Romney over women’s issues. On the stump, Romney often hails his wife as someone who provides him with guidance on issues affecting women.
The Rosen gaffe came hours after a Romney policy adviser couldn’t tell reporters whether the would-be nominee supported the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
Officials at the Republican National Committee say the Rosen remarks have been a "huge motivator" with their base and they're capitalizing on it in fundraising and volunteering efforts.
In addition to having RNC Chairman Reince Priebus conduct talk-radio interviews, officials say they have been working with state parties to push the message and send out fundraising emails. They've also been running banner adds saying, "Don't let Barack Obama and Democrats insult women. Moms do work."
This story was posted at 12:14 p.m. and updated at 2:38 p.m.