When the Romney campaign kicked into high gear Wednesday night, tying the Obama campaign to controversial comments Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen made about Ann Romney, it introduced a little untruth into the equation: that Rosen is an adviser to the Obama campaign. Thursday, as Romney continues to use Rosen’s comments to drum up a “war on moms,” his campaign surrogates went further, claiming Rosen was delivering the official Obama line when she spoke about Ann Romney’s lack of experience in the workplace.
Rosen said Wednesday night that Ann Romney wasn’t the best authority on women’s economic concerns since she’s “never worked a day in her life.” The Romney campaign interpreted that to mean Rosen — and by extenuation President Obama — don’t respect stay-at-home mothers or view raising children as work.
Rosen is not an adviser to President Obama, his campaign or the Democratic National Committee. But in order to hang Rosen’s comments around Obama’s neck, the Romney campaign has willfully disregarded that fact.
On a call with several female Romney surrogates Thursday morning, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) immediately misidentified Rosen as “President Obama’s adviser and DNC strategist.” Throughout the call, various surrogates continued to assert that Rosen was speaking for the Obama campaign and defended the claim when pressed about the tenuous connection by reporters on the call.
“Her firm has been paid by the Democratic National Committee, she’s been down to the White House 35 times,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). “There’s clearly a connection between Rosen and the Obama administration, and she’s been involved for many, many years.”
One surrogate, Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), went even further, saying that Rosen was acting as a “surrogate” and was on message when she mentioned Ann Romney’s work experience.
“Clearly they’re using surrogate women including Hilary Rosen, who is a paid spokesperson, to deliver messages about Republicans that the president does not want to deliver himself,” said Lummis. “But quite clearly, her remarks are reflective of the message that the political machine within the White House intends to put out.”
Pressed on whether she was was saying the administration actually wanted to question Ann Romney’s work experience or denigrate stay-at-home mothers — as the many Romney surrogates on the call claimed — Lummis doubled down:
It’s hard for me to believe that Hilary Rosen, who has visited the White House 35 times recently, and advises on message, would make remarks like that in a half-hazard [sic] or freelancing way. Message is among other things, disciplined when it comes to who will deliver the message and what the message will be. I don’t believe that Hilary Rosen was speaking in a manner that would indicate she was absolutely freelancing.
When Ann Romney appeared on Fox News Thursday morning, Fox News identified Rosen as a “DNC advisor,” but that’s not true, either. As the DNC made clear Thursday, it has a contract with Anita Dunn, who works at the same firm as Rosen, but Rosen does not work for the DNC. Previously, Rosen was brought on to help train DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Obama operatives Jim Messina and David Axelrod, as well as Wasserman Schultz, have condemned Rosen’s comments.
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.