Election 2012 Puts Women in Early Spotlight (Update 1)

Updated from 3:25 p.m. ET with Hilary Rosen's apology

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Election 2012 has made its opening move, and the first pawn is women.

That's the early direction the President Barack Obama and presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney campaigns have taken as Romney trails the president by double-digit percentage points among women.

"The real war on women is being waged by the President's failed economic policies," Romney said Wednesday at an event in Hartford, Conn.

"He Romney advocates...making women pay more for their health care," Obama's campaign wrote Thursday in a press statement.

The he said, he said about women exploded, though, after Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen said Romney's wife, Ann, has never worked a day in her life nor dealt with economic issues that now face a majority of women.

Ann reacted to Rosen's remarks on Fox News' "American Newsroom" Thursday morning, saying being a mother was a career choice.

"Other women make other choices, to have a career and raise family, which I think Hilary Rosen has actually done herself," Romney said. "We have to respect women and all those choices that they make."

Romney's campaign has tried to project Rosen's comments on Obama's campaign.

"A clueless Hilary Rosen on #CNN refuses to back off her comments attacking Ann Romney. Will DNC/Obama sever ties?" Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom tweeted Thursday.

The Obama campaign quickly condemned Rosen's comments in an attempt to curb any collateral damage on the campaign.

"I could not disagree with Hilary Rosen any more strongly. Her comments were wrong and family should be off limits. She should apologize," tweeted Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager.

"Also disappointed in Hilary Rosen's comments about Ann Romney. They were inappropriate and offensive," tweeted David Axelrod, an Obama campaign adviser.

The early tumult between the two campaigns comes just two days after Rick Santorum, Romney's biggest rival for the Republican presidential nomination unexpectedly dropped out of the race.

As for Rosen, she apologized for her comments in a statement late Thursday afternoon: "I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended. Let's declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance."

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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