Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Mitt Romney's Flip-Flop on Stay-at-Home Moms: Will It Matter?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Mitt Romney's Flip-Flop on Stay-at-Home Moms: Will It Matter?

Article excerpt

Mitt Romney said four months ago that women receiving public assistance should work outside the home, which seems to contradict last week's attempt to score points with stay-at-home moms.

Over the weekend, MSNBC aired a Mitt Romney sound bite that, on the face of it, seemed pretty stunning. Speaking in New Hampshire just four months ago, the candidate was explaining why he favored work requirements for poor women receiving public assistance - even if it ultimately cost the state more money in day-care expenses. The answer? Because they need to experience "the dignity of work."

Here's the full quote:

"While I was [Massachusetts] governor, 85 percent of the people on a form of welfare assistance in my state had no work requirement. And I wanted to increase the work requirement. I said, for instance, that even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, well that's heartless. And I said no, no, I'm willing to spend more giving day care to allow those parents to go back to work. It will cost the state more, providing that day care. But I want the individuals to have the dignity of work."

Why was this comment potentially problematic? Because it came, of course, after several days in which the Romney campaign gleefully scored points off Democrat Hilary Rosen's remark on CNN that stay- at-home mom Ann Romney "never worked a day in her life." As the presidential campaign went into a "mommy wars" time warp, Ms. Romney tweeted that she was proud to have stayed home to raise her five boys, adding, "Believe me, it was hard work."

That set off a furious public discussion in which nearly everyone, Democrats and Republicans alike, made the same basic points over and over again: (1) Raising kids is hard work. (2) Staying home is a personal decision that women make based on a variety of factors. (3) But the main factor involved is money - and most women can't afford to do it.

Despite being a "debate" with no real points of disagreement, it made for a few good news cycles for Mr. …

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