Ann Romney Vs. Hilary Rosen: The Mommy Wars Become Fundraising Opportunity for GOP

The Republican National Committee is offering this $15 mug.Just days after Democratic pundit and mother of two Hilary Rosen questioned Ann Romney's economic expertise, saying that the mother of five "has actually never worked a day in her life," the Republican party has turned the decades-old working-mom vs. stay-at-home mom debate into a fundraising opportunity.

[Related: Is there really a "War on Women"?]

"I believe that Moms do work and can't stand liberals who think that Moms don't," the Republican National Committee says on its website. "To show my support for the hard work done by Moms everywhere and to help defeat elitist liberals like Barack Obama, I would like to purchase a 'Moms Do Work' travel mug." Proceeds from the sale of the $15 mug support the Republican party.

GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is offering a "Moms Drive the Economy" bumper sticker on his campaign site, urging supporters to buy one for $6 as a show of unity and support, not just for him, but for women everywhere. "We stand with Mitt and Ann in saying that all women play an important role in our country," reads a letter sent to supporters. "America deserves a president who will bring us together -- not pit us against each other."

You can fan the Mommy-War flames with this bumper stickerThe debate -- and the merchandise -- ignores the larger point: That while staying home with your kids is a valid career choice, it's one that's a luxury for many American women who are struggling to pay their bills and raise their kids at the same time.

Birth control issues aside, with GOP-backed state legislation that claims single moms cause child abuse, conservative lawmakers who suggest that women should stay in abusive marriages, and last week's Republican repeal of Wisconsin's Equal Pay Enforcement Act, it's difficult for some to take the party's newly touted respect for women seriously. How much can motherhood really matter when women who ask legitimate questions about politics and finance are told "I guess I'm not speaking in little enough words for you to understand," as happened just this week in Virginia?

(Video courtesy of the Virginia Democratic Party)

"There's this theme that comes out of the American revolution, that the appropriate role for women is to be mothers, because the household is the political budding block of the republic," Brian Murphy, a professor of American History at City University of New York, told Yahoo! Shine in an interview. "That the appropriate role for women is to raise good citizens who will go on to provide public service, but not to provide that service themselves."

"As a male voter, it just feels that they've boxed themselves into a real corner where women without children who want birth control are not virtuous, and are irresponsible," he continued. "And women who have kids who are married and work are not doing the right thing. Women who have kids and aren't married are absolutely doing the wrong thing. Homosexual couples who adopt are some sort of abomination. Really, the only opening left is if you have children and you're married, is that you shouldn't go back to work."

On Friday, Rosen apologized for her comment about Ann Romney. "I deeply apologize again to work-in-home moms, Mrs Romney & the POTUS," she tweeted. "Not going on #MTP [Meet the Press] this weekend. I'm going to be a mom who stays home."

The Obama administration has distanced itself from Rosen's remarks. "There's no tougher job than being a mom," the president told ABC News on Thursday. "Anybody who would argue otherwise, I think, probably needs to rethink their statement." On Wednesday, as the incident played out across the internet, first lady Michelle Obama weighed in via Twitter with "Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected."

But the voters that both parties are trying to court may be fed up with the entire debacle.

"As a woman who has been a full-time professional without kids, a full-time professional with kids, a stay-at-home mom and now a full-time work-from-home professional who also stays at home with my kids (and everything in between), I feel qualified to say: This is stupid. All of it," Redbook's Charlotte Hilton Andersen wrote at Yahoo! Shine. "How is this debate not dead yet?"

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