After spending 24 hours on the losing end of a toxic battle over which party's policies are more detrimental to women, Mitt Romney has suddenly found his fortunes improving — and his allies couldn't resist a little gloating.
The moment came on a press call Thursday morning, organized at the last minute by the Romney campaign to respond to a Democratic strategist's charge that Ann Romney has "never actually worked a day in her life.
Following several minutes of hammering the strategist — and President Obama, by association — New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte reminded reporters that they weren't the ones who started this whole "war on women" thing.
"Governor Romney has been talking about issues that impact everyone and uniting people, and that's what we need in this country," Ayotte said. "This is a dialogue that [Democrats] have pushed. And it's really unfortunate that their advisor made these comments, but this is an example of the divisive politics of this president."
Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lummis echoed the sentiment: "It is the Democrats that are accusing Republican women of being unconcerned about women."
The subtext: You picked this fight, but we're winning it.
Romney still has a significant gender gap to overcome before any victories can be declared; and public concern over reproductive rights will surely outlast the half-life of a single gaffe.
But the momentum shift — occurring literally overnight — that's put Democrats on defense is a reminder to Chicago that focusing the campaign on divisive gender politics is a double-edged sword.
McKay Coppins is a senior writer for the BuzzFeed News politics team, and the author of The Wilderness, about the battle over the future of the Republican Party.
Contact McKay Coppins at email@example.com.
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