The firestorm over Hilary Rosen’s Ann Romney comments spilled over into a conference call with Republican congresswomen this morning, as they shot back at the Democratic strategist and claimed the Obama campaign bears some responsibility for her remarks.
The Wall Street Journal reported in February Rosen was brought on as a consultant for Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. According to Romney-backer Rep. Cynthia Lummis, Rosen gave no indication that she was “freelancing” when she attacked Ann Romney’s work record on “Anderson Cooper 360″ last night.
“Clearly [the Obama campaign is] 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 for fear of the backlash,” she said.
The DNC denied the two-month-old Wall Street Journal report today, saying it had no relationship with Rosen. Spokesperson Bob Woodhouse told the Miami Herald that the DNC’s contract “is exclusively with Anita Dunn.” Rosen works at Dunn’s firm, SKDKnickerbocker, so that elucidation doesn’t really mean much (fun fact: SKDKnickerbocker is also the firm that represents Sandra Fluke).
This is a critical moment for the Obama campaign as it attempts to publicly define Mitt Romney as uncaring, out-of-touch, weird, awkward, and far right-wing. Ann Romney helps counter all of that. She’s widely liked, charming, and down-to-earth, and she’s been playing a major role in softening her husband’s image and reaching out to women voters. In other words, she’s a threat to Obama’s reelection chances. While the Obama campaign can’t chip away at her image directly, it can have ostensible outsiders do it for them. Whether that’s what happened in this case is yet to be determined, but judging from DWS’s apologetic tweet today, the DNC is trying to untangle itself from this damaging controversy as quickly as possible.