MITT Romney's wife Ann was hurled to the centre of the presidential election this week, when she was criticised by a Democratic Party strategist for having "never worked a day in her life".
Hilary Rosen, who has worked for a number of high-profile Democrats, criticised Mr Romney for using his wife, a stay-at-home mother of five sons, as a surrogate to connect with female voters.
"You have Mitt Romney running around the country saying, 'Well, my wife tells me what women really care about is economic issues'," she said on CNN. "Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life."
Mrs Romney's popularity as a mother and a cancer survivor far outstrips her husband's and, within minutes, Republicans took to Twitter to hit back at Ms Rosen, criticising her for marginalising women who decided not to go to work.
The row prompted Mrs Romney to join the social networking site, where her first tweet read simply: "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work."
While on the campaign trail, Mrs Romney often says that her husband would return from work and tell her "your job is more important than mine".
Anxious that Barack Obama's 19-point polling advantage with women could be jeopardised, two of the president's top campaign aides called on Ms Rosen to apologise.
David Axelrod, a senior adviser, said the comments were "inappropriate and offensive", while Mr Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina said criticism of Mr Romney's family "should be off limits".
Even Michelle Obama waded into the dispute with a Tweet which urged Americans to respect the choices of all women.
"Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected," Obama, a former corporate lawyer and mother of two daughters, wrote.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)