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Mitt's muddled message on Moms

It's funny how a 43-second video can ruin the Romney's campaign's entire offensive on stay-at-home moms.

On Wednesday, CNN pundit Hilary Rosen noted that Mitt Romney claims to rely on his wife for guidance on women and economic issues, which Rosen argued is odd, since Ann Romney has "never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing." As you probably noticed, this led Republicans to say Democrats are "attacking" moms, and it led many in the media to suggest "both sides" are engaged in a "war on women."

The Romney campaign, in particular, tried to exploit the CNN pundit's observation in all sorts of creative ways, most notably pushing the line, "All moms are working moms." Take a moment, however, to compare that sentiment to the line Romney pushed in January, as was first reported yesterday on MSNBC's "Up With Chris Hayes."

For those who can't watch clips on line, the former governor was reflecting on his Massachusetts policy, forcing women on welfare to meet a mandatory work requirement. He told a New Hampshire audience, "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'll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.'"

It's hard to overstate the extent to which this contradicts the Romney campaign's line from last week. Romney argues in this video that a woman caring for a two year old isn't really "working," and should find a job outside the home in order to have some "dignity."

So, if you're Ann Romney, being a stay-at-home mom counts as "work." If you're a low-income mother struggling to get by, being a stay-at-home mom is undignified and doesn't count as "work."

When Mitt Romney told the NRA last week, "I happen to believe that all moms are working moms," we apparently missed the asterisk that read, "Unless you're poor, in which case, those moms should get real jobs."

Here are a few questions for the political world to ponder: why should Hilary Rosen's observation generate a national controversy, while Romney's policy positions go overlooked? Or put another way, which of the two statements is more insulting to moms? Which of the two is more condescending?

Why does Romney believe moms with private-equity riches are dignified and should have a choice about working outside the home, while moms who need public assistance lack dignity and should have no choice?

Or more to the point, why will Romney and Republicans continue to say "all moms are working moms" without the fear that voters will laugh in their face?