War, what is it good for?
In the case of last night's cable news-driven, Twitter-addled frenzy over a Democratic strategist's comments about Ann Romney, it allowed Republicans to reclaim a news cycle of non-stop bickering over whether President Obama or Mitt Romney is better attuned to the concerns of women.
It all started with strategist Hilary Rosen's remark to CNN's Anderson Cooper that Mrs. Romney "actually never worked a day in her life."
"She's 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 how do we - why we worry about their future," Rosen said.
That sparked a flurry of Twitter pushback from Ann Romney (@AnnDRomney) who wrote, "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work." http://abcn.ws/HDE0AV
Republicans and Romney supporters immediately pounced and even some high-profile Democrats, including Obama campaign manager Jim Messsina, called on Rosen to apologize.
"I could not disagree with Hilary Rosen any more strongly. Her comments were wrong and family should be off limits," Messina tweeted last night.
But Rosen (@hilaryr), an adviser to the Democratic National Committee, doubled down in a piece on the Huffington Post.
"Spare me the faux anger from the right who view the issue of women's rights and advancement as a way to score political points," she wrote. "When it comes to supporting policies that would actually help women, their silence has been deafening."
All of the sound and fury ended up throwing Democrats off their game after starting the day by calling the Romney campaign out for a slow response to a question about whether the former Massachusetts governor supports a law, signed by President Obama, that helps women receive equal pay in the workplace.
It also changed the subject from a fact-checking controversy over a statistic the Romney campaign has been using - that 92 percent of jobs lost during the Obama administration belonged to women.
Earlier in the day, the Obama campaign flexed its rapid-response muscle on the Lilly Ledbetter Act, but by the end of the night the "Romney campaign jumped on Rosen's remarks with a speed that no Republican campaign has shown in the past," the Washington Examiner's chief political correspondent Byron York observed.
BOTTOM LINE: If it wasn't already clear, the battle for women voters is going to play a starring role between now and November and both campaigns are becoming adept at capitalizing on the other's missteps. Team Romney, in particular, which currently faces a 19-point disadvantage among women versus President Obama, will be poised to seize every opportunity to narrow that gap.
On "Good Morning America" today, ABC's John Berman noted, "The second this happened last night, you knew it would explode." WATCH: http://abcn.ws/HNHaA1
HILARY ROSEN'S DEFENSE. "I have no judgements about women who work outside the home vs. women who work in the home raising a family. I admire women who can stay home and raise their kids full-time. I even envy them sometimes. It is a wonderful luxury to have the choice. But let's stipulate that it is NOT a choice that most women have in America today. Why does this even matter? It matters purely because Mitt Romney put the issue of his wife's views squarely on the table. … [Is] Ann Romney Mitt's touchstone for women who are struggling economically or not? Nothing in Ann Romney's history as we have heard it - hardworking mom she may have been - leads me to believe that Mitt has chosen the right expert to get feedback on this problem he professes to be so concerned about. … I have nothing against Ann Romney. She seems like a nice lady who has raised nice boys, struggled with illness, and handles its long-term effects with grace and dignity. I admire her grit in talking about her illness publicly. What is more important to me and 57% of current women voters is her husband saying he supports women's economic issue because they are the only issues that matter to us and then he fails on even those." http://huff.to/IIHmE1
REPUBLICAN COUNTER-PROGRAMMING. ABC's Rick Klein points out that the Republican National Committee is jumping on Hilary Rosen's comments to make this assertion: "And now Democrats are attacking women who make a choice to stay at home and raise a family." In a statement from RNC Co-Chairman Sharon Day, the RNC is highlighting the other message the Romney camp is pushing (and that Romney hit personally yesterday): "In reality, the past few years under Barack Obama have been devastating for American women. Since he took office, the number of employed women has decreased by 683,000, and many more women have given up looking for work altogether. Even worse, the poverty rate among women has skyrocketed to the highest level in seventeen years. If there's a war on women in America, it's being waged from the White House." The RNC also published a research document "Obama's Record On Women: Democrats Accuse Republicans Of Waging A War On Women, Hypocritically Ignoring The Facts" http://bit.ly/IJWsJs and a graphic claiming that the White House is a hostile workplace to women: http://bit.ly/IXtN0l
OBAMA CAMP 'CELEBRATES' ROMNEYCARE'S BIRTHDAY. The Obama campaign is marking the six-year anniversary of Mitt Romney's Massachusetts health care law with a new mini-documentary that traces its path from "model for the nation" to Republicans' enemy number one. The three-minute video features key figures who helped craft "Romneycare" and appeared in public with then-Gov. Romney as he heralded passage of the landmark law in 2006. "Massachusetts Health Reform was going to be Mitt Romney's central accomplishment that he would use on the national stage running for president," says John McDonough of the Harvard School of Public Health who is identified as an "architect and advocate for both 'Romneycare' and 'Obamacare'." (h/t ABC's Devin Dwyer) http://abcn.ws/HtUJpK WATCH: http://bit.ly/HNsWy
FOSTER FRIESS GETS BEHIND ROMNEY. Wasting no time, the Romney campaign reached out to Rick Santorum's biggest donor, Foster Friess, on Wednesday. Just one day after Santorum dropped out of the race, Friess told ABC News the campaign touched base with the former mutual fund manager and he feels as though he must financially help Romney, ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports. "There's a lot at stake. Rick has said he is going to support the ticket and I will do the same," Friess said. "I've had some conversations with his people, but not with him directly about how I can help." Politico was first to report Friess would financially back Romney now that Santorum is out of the race. Friess was the largest donor to Santorum's Super PAC, The Red, White, and Blue Fund and is a longtime friend who during parts of the campaign was often seen by the former Pennsylvania senator's side, usually in his white cowboy hat. He said that while he respects and understands Santorum's decision he "honestly would still like him to be in the fray" and "still be competitive." "It's his decision and when you have a child in danger and Karen was home alone with Bella, it was all part of how he was thinking," Friess said, adding Santorum really "hoped to win Wisconsin." http://abcn.ws/HBVlhI
BIDEN HEADS TO NEW HAMPSHIRE WITH ANTI-ROMNEY MESSAGE. Vice President Joe Biden will attack Mitt Romney on taxes in Exeter, N.H. today, using his fourth in a series of campaign issue speeches to frame the Republican candidate as a protector of the rich. Biden will coin a new phrase - "the Romney Rule" - to illustrate his case, according to excerpts of his remarks released by the Obama campaign, ABC's Devin Dwyer notes. "The Buffett Rule says that multi-millionaires should pay at least the same percentage of their income in taxes as middle-class families do," Biden will say. "The Romney Rule says the very wealthy should keep the tax cuts and loopholes they have, and get an additional, new tax cut every year that is worth more than what the average middle class family makes in an entire year." Biden refers to the so-called Bush tax cuts on individuals earning more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000. Romney wants to extend and expand the cuts, which are set to expire at the end of the year; Obama wants to let them lapse. "Look, these are tax cuts to people who didn't ask for them, who don't need them, and who know the nation can't afford them," Biden will say. "And it matters. There's a stark choice we have to make."
ROMNEY CAMPAIGN COUNTER-PROGRAMMING. From the Romney campaign: "Today, former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu, State Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, and former gubernatorial nominee John Stephen will hold a press conference call welcoming Vice President Biden to New Hampshire and discuss how President Obama's failed economic policies have hurt New Hampshire families." The call starts at 10 a.m. ET.
ROMNEY WON'T RULE OUT SANTORUM AS VEEP. For the second time in as many days, Mitt Romney was quizzed about his potential vice presidential pick during a town hall and declined to rule out a possible Romney-Santorum ticket, ABC's Emily Friedman notes. "Everybody is on my list," said Romney in answer to a voter who asked whether he would consider former presidential candidate Rick Santorum as his running mate. "Everybody is on my list. I'm not taking anybody off the list, alright?" But Romney quickly stopped himself - backtracking to say that there actually isn't a list of potential vice presidential candidates. At least not yet. "I actually don't, I don't have a list, yet," said Romney. "So I can't say someone is on or off my list." "But I can tell you that the people who I had the privilege of running against would surely be among those I would consider," said Romney. "The criteria, I think, has to be, first and foremost, is this a person who could be president of the United States, if that were needed? And do people recognize that and see that as a person who has that kind of qualification and so he- I've said this before. If any of the people I ran against happened to become the nominee, I would have endorsed them and supported them for president." http://abcn.ws/Ht8wgn
RON PAUL: NO PLANS TO ENDORSE ANYTIME SOON. "Republican presidential contender Ron Paul says he's friendly with GOP front-runner Mitt Romney but that he's not planning to endorse Romney anytime soon," according to a dispatch from the Associated Press. "Paul told reporters Wednesday in Fort Worth, Texas, that he and Romney know each other well. But Paul says he will continue his campaign and hasn't heard from Romney's camp about dropping out. Paul says his supporters wouldn't want him to leave the race and that he hopes to collect more delegates for the GOP convention in August. Paul says he sees the convention the same way he sees his job as a congressman from Texas - as a chance to change minds, even if he doesn't change laws. Almost 3,000 people packed a Fort Worth auditorium Wednesday to hear Paul speak."
NOTABLE READ: AN INTERVIEW WITH ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA. A dispatch from ABC's Mathew Jaffe in Los Angles: Earlier this year L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was tapped to be chairman of the Democratic National Convention in August, which he called "an honor." A key part of that role will be to help make President Obama make his case to Latinos, the nation's fastest-growing voting bloc, one that backed Obama by a two-thirds margin in 2008. "I expect that the president is going to get an even higher percentage in 2012," Villaraigosa predicted. "We're not taking anybody for granted, but I think there are prospects of getting an overwhelming vote among Latinos for the president." Recent polls indicate that Villaraigosa could be right. A late January poll conducted by Latino Decisions for ABC News and Univision found that 67 percent of Latinos would back Obama in a matchup against Republican Mitt Romney, who received only 25 percent of their support. In addition, 41 percent of Latinos nationwide said they had a somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable view of Romney. http://abcn.ws/IoY38U
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
FROM THE RIGHT… House Speaker John Boehner released a new energy video this morning in which he makes the case that high gas prices are hurting families and small businesses, "and the president's policies have only made things worse." http://bit.ly/In3lC2 WATCH: http://bit.ly/HIRygj
…AND THE LEFT. "The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is now up with billboards in the districts of 14 vulnerable House Republicans to hold them accountable for choosing 'Millionaires over Medicare' in the recent Republican budget vote. The billboards are up for the entire month to highlight these House Republicans voting to end Medicare for seniors and raise health care costs, while protecting tax breaks for the ultra wealthy and Big Oil. 'We will go district by district to hold House Republicans accountable for their vote that gives millionaires an average $394,000 tax cut while costing seniors thousands of dollars more for Medicare,' DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said in a statement." Here's a picture of one of the billboards: http://bit.ly/HCDBCM
@rickklein : need milkshake recommendations in NYC. for a very important meeting I'll be exuberantly Tweeting about tomorrow.
- Mitt Romney has no public campaign events.
- Newt Gingrich will visit the Hollywood Diner Dover, Del.
- Ron Paul holds a lunch and a town hall meeting in San Antonio, Tex.
- Sen. Rob Portman , R-Ohio, campaigns on behalf of Mitt Romney at a Westmoreland County GOP Dinner in Greensburg, Pa.
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV
* Get The Note delivered to your inbox every day.
* For breaking political news and analysis check out The Note blog: http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/ and ABCNews.com/Politics: http://abcnews.com/politics