Salena Zito

"Politicians don't communicate well with woman voters," said Wilson. "They focus on trigger issues, like birth control or women not being allowed into men-only clubs. We are much more complicated than that. ... They should be talking about the things (women) care about, like getting food on the table, health care and if they have children, keeping them safe."

White House press secretary Jay Carney last week told reporters that Obama believes women should be admitted to the all-male Augusta National Golf Club, site of the Masters tournament.

Pelted yesterday with questions about Rosen, who the Romney campaign said has visited the White House 35 times, Carney said: "I think we can all agree, Democrats and Republicans, that raising children is an extremely difficult job."

Rosen suggested Wednesday night that Ann Romney is no economic expert because she did not have to work to pay bills and should not be her millionaire husband's surrogate on women and the economy. "She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of women in this country are facing," Rosen said.

Her comments lit up social media sites and talk shows.

Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod tweeted that her attack was "inappropriate and offensive." First Lady Michelle Obama, a working mother of two, jumped in with this tweet: "Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected."

The Democratic National Committee's executive director, Patrick Gaspard, told MSNBC that Rosen is not a paid advisor to the DNC or the Obama campaign.

"What she said was 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," he said.

Rosen prompted Ann Romney to open a Twitter account to counter her, saying she chose to stay home and "believe me it was hard work."

"I am raising children, too," Rosen tweeted. "But most young American women HAVE to BOTH earn a living AND raise children. You know that don't u?"

Choosing to stay home rather than work outside the home while raising children isn't a partisan decision or an economic one, said Wilson. Plenty of mothers with varying incomes decide to stay home, despite potential economic hardship or career setbacks, she said.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told the Trib in a 2010 interview that her job as a stay-at-home mom was the best education she got for her role as then-House speaker.

"Never underestimate what happens in a home," Pelosi said. "All the discipline, diplomacy, sense of organization -- I learned it all there."

Carney asked reporters to "focus on what the issue here is -- when it comes to what this administration has done for women, it begins with the president's signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act." The law, the first legislation Obama signed, was designed to make it easier for women to challenge pay inequality.

Yet, recently released financial records show the White House practices unequal pay for its female employees, said Andrew Stiles of the online newspaper Free Beacon.

Stiles cited a 2011 annual report on White House staff showing females earned a median salary of $60,000, about 18 percent less than the $71,000 median for males, though he noted that his calculations for each gender "required some assumptions to be made based on the employee names."

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.