If you went to bed oblivious of the news last night, there was a mini-bruhaha over a comment Hilary Rosen, the former head of the RIAA and a DNC Advisor, made to Anderson Cooper on AC360 last night. I was on AC360 with both Hilary and Paul Begala. Hillary said that Ann Romney, a mother of five sons who has had breast cancer and MS, had “actually never worked a day in her life.” Ann Romney made her debut on twitter to take issue with the remark. The White House and Obama campaign were quick to distance themselves and say Hilary should offer an apology.For what it’s worth, in context Hilary was talking about the workforce and recession and I don’t think she meant to insult stay at home moms or Mrs. Romney. On Twitter, Hilary explained she was taking issue with Mitt Romney using Ann Romney as his expert on women and Ann Romney did not work both a full time job and raise the five boys concurrently. But more than that, I actually never even heard her make the remark originally because I was still dwelling on how Hilary had started her statement. Hilary said the Democrats had actually never used the phrase “War on Women,” and that it was a Republican invention. I turned on twitter and saw all the outrage and literally said out loud, “How’d I miss that?”Saying the Democrats had never coined the “war on women” terminology threw me for a loop.As the other statement about Mrs. Romney was being made, I was replaying in my mind where I’d heard the “war on women” rhetoric. Turns out the Democrats started it all the way back in February of 2011 and even Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Chair of the DNC and a congresswoman has gone all in with the rhetoric.
Hilary saying the Democrats hadn’t started it threw me for a loop because I’d played on my radio show DNC Chair and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Meet the Press from March 4, 2012. From the transcript:
MR. GREGORY: Nice to have you here in studio. So let me ask you about this issue of contraception and this fight over social issues. Just as I’ve asked your–the two other guests I’ve had this morning, can you appreciate where they’re coming from, which is–this is not a war on women, which they say is a vast overstatement, or about access to contraception, but this is about religious liberty that started with the president’s new regulation about faith institutions and access and who pays for contraception.REP. SCHULTZ: Well, if it’s not a war on women, then let’s just look at what happened this week in contraception. First, you had the Blunt-Rubio bill that was on the floor in the United States Senate that wouldn’t just deal with making sure that women couldn’t have access to contraception, it would actually say that any boss could use their own moral conviction to decide what access to health care their employees could have, making sure that women would have to have their own access to health care, whether it’s to mammograms or contraception or to amniocenteses or any other type of health care access, decided by their boss. And that was defeated in the Senate. So the Republicans actually want to go much further than just saying women shouldn’t have access to, to contraception. They want to say that bosses should be able to decide what kind of access to health care women can have.
On Political Capital with Al Hunt on April 6, 2012, there was this exchange with the Democratic Congresswoman and DNC Chair:
HUNT: You have charged that the Republicans are waging a war on women. They say that is nonsense. The gender gap issue will disappear as we get closer, at least it will erode as we get closer to the election. And that the Democrats, in fact, have a Catholic problem.WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: Well, it is clear in this country that the jury of women across America have ruled, that the Republicans have been unbelievably extreme and out of touch and hyper-focused on cultural issues.I mean while we are supposed to be focusing, and should be, as President Obama has been, focused on getting the economy turned around and continuing to move us forward and create jobs, their side is obsessed with cultural issues.
Note that she does not deny using the phrase.Likewise, there was Debbie Wasserman Schultz on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley just this past weekend pressed on whether or not there really was a “War on Women.” “The focus of the Republican Party on turning back the clock for women really is something that’s unacceptable and shows how callous and insensitive they are towards women’s priorities,” she said. That’s not exactly a denial.At the same time, liberal Talking Points Memo from just yesterday characterizes the “war on women” this way:
Mitt Romney has tried to turn Democrats’ claim of a “war on women” by the GOP against them this week, accusing President Obama of waging his own “war on women.” Slower job growth for female workers, Romney insists, is evidence of Obama’s war.
On just about every MSNBC show — official press organ of the Democratic Party — the hosts routinely use the phrase to characterize the GOP. For the past two weeks, it has been a consistent theme on the show. Given how MSNBC doesn’t actually read news, but DNC talking points, it’s a stretch to say the Democrats aren’t behind it.MoveOn.org sent out a letter on February 19, 2011 (yes, that long ago) accusing the GOP of a “war on women” writing
Dear MoveOn member,It might seem hyperbolic to say that Republicans have declared a war on women.Sadly, it’s not.
On March 25, 2011, NARAL Pro-Choice America, EMILYs List, and MoveOn.org started a “Stop the War on Women” campaign.The list goes on.It is the Democratic National Committee Chairwoman, Democratic Party mouthpieces, and outside groups pushing the Democrats’ agenda that have all said the GOP is at war against women.To now deny that the Democrats came up with the term and to say the GOP did it is not just unfair, it is factually wrong. But my guess is that this is an admission that the “war on women” approach isn’t working well for the Democrats.In fact, we can verify that.Just last week, Gallup released a new poll with this finding:
Eight in 10 independent women in the swing states said they were not familiar with Romney’s position on contraception, but those who were familiar disagreed with it by a 2-to-1 ratio. Independent women were more likely to have an opinion about Obama’s views on contraception (58% were unfamiliar), and were divided about evenly between saying they agree or disagree with them.
Two things stick out like a sore thumb to me on this. First, 80% of independent women in swing states have no idea what Romney’s position is on contraception despite all the Democrats’ rhetoric. Second, of those who know about Obama’s position, they are split roughly 50-50 on liking his position. That doesn’t seem like it’ll be a problem for Mitt Romney.