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White House Plays Defense in ‘War for Women’

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney sought to brush aside the furor over Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen’s comments about stay-at-home mom Ann Romney and pivot back to policy today.

“I think we can all agree — Democrats and Republicans — that raising children is an extremely difficult job. And that is true for all mothers, as well as fathers,” he said. “But we should also focus on where we disagree.”

Carney’s comments came after first lady Michelle Obama waded into the kerfuffle over Rosen’s remarks that Ann Romney “hasn’t worked a day in her life.”

“Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected,” the first lady tweeted after Ann Romney appeared on Fox to rip into Rosen’s comments.

In defending Democrats’ record of fighting for women, Carney pointed to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — the first law President Barack Obama signed.

“Why did it take President Obama entering office, being sworn into office, to have the Fair Pay Act become law? Because Republicans overwhelmingly opposed it and presumably still do,” he said.

Carney also cited the GOP’s blockage of Obama’s plan to prevent 400,000 teacher layoffs by states — noting that most teachers are women. And he pointed to GOP attempts to cut Head Start, student aid, Medicare and the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.

“Cuts of this magnitude would require kicking about 700,000 pregnant or post-partum women, infants and children off of WIC and denying another 100,000 from receiving critical foods necessary for healthy child development,” he said.

Under fire for Rosen’s apparent coziness with the White House, Carney said he couldn’t confirm how many times the Democratic strategist has been to the White House, saying he knows three Hilary Rosens personally.

“I have not seen her here very frequently,” he offered.

Rosen also tried to refocus the issue, with an apology of her own today after top Obama campaign officials Jim Messina and David Axelrod, among others, condemned her remarks.

“I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended,” she said in a statement on CNN.com. “Let’s declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance.”

Rosen had earlier sought to defuse the controversy by clarifying that she was not attacking stay-at-home mothers but was noting that the financial position many women find themselves in doesn’t allow them to stay at home, unlike the wealthy Romneys.

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