Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Republican National Committeewoman Ronna Romney McDaniel leapt to the defense of GOP Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land in Michigan Oct. 10 after Land was ridiculed for pointing out several times during a Michigan Public Radio interview that she is a mother with children.
Land answered the first question in the 50-minute program — a caller asked what she would do about ISIS — by referring to her children.
Land criticized President Obama for a lack of action in Syria and then said, “Safety and security is a huge issue. I am out there talking to voters all the time. I’m a mom. I have two kids and people are very concerned.”
A few minutes later, Land mentioned her children again as part of her answer to a follow-up question about putting U.S. combat groups into action against ISIS.
“Again…I am a mom, I have two kids, I have a son. To put combat troops on the ground is a very serious decision,” Land said.
And her references to her children went on from there, sparking a firestorm of Twitter activity.
The tweets lampooning Land flew fast and furious, primarily from Sam Inglot, a spokesman for a left-wing group known as Progress Michigan, and from Haley Morris, the campaign spokesman for Land’s opponent in the Michigan Senate election, Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.).
Haley Morris @haleymorris “Nope. But its an odd pivot when not talking about how to address ISIS RT @hswift: Being a mother is a bad thing acd to dems #MISen #MICalling”
.@TerriLLand drinking game: Drink when she says “I’m a mom” or “The President needs to lead” #misen #MICalling
He followed that tweet with a series of tweets attacking Land for mentioning her parental status.
Progress Michigan @ProgressMich
Ding, ding! Round 1 is over. Things we know from @TerriLLand: She is a mom and the president needs to lead. Dodged most questions #Micalling
.@hswift “I’m a mom” is not an answer to Qs about Ebola, military strategy or how to reduce carbon emissions. Moms are awesome. I have one.
@CraigFahle @TerriLLand and my mom has three. I would know, I’m one of them.
Heather Swift, spokesman for the Land campaign, opened the Oct. 10 tele-conference by accusing the Peters campaign and Progress Michigan of waging “a sexist war against Land.”
Ayotte said she thought it was ironic to have to respond to criticism of Land proclaiming her parental status on the same day that First Lady (and First Mother) Michelle Obama was scheduled to be in Detroit campaigning for Peters.
“We admire Michelle Obama as a great mom, and we believe Michelle Obama would not condone the rhetoric that is being used against Terri Lynn Land,” Ayotte said.
“I am a mom in the U.S. Senate. We have 20 women in Senate. We don’t have enough people who have children and can bring that perspective to the U.S. Senate, who would make the world safer for children and future generations,” Ayotte added.
Romney agreed with Ayotte and said that Washington needs more “common-sense moms (like Land) who have a record of making government work,” especially in the legislative branch of the federal government.
She also noted the criticism leveled against Land is not unusual. Romney remembered when her aunt, Ann Romney, was mocked during the 2012 presidential campaign for being a stay-at-home mother.
“Gary Peters says he is an outspoken proponent of women but stays silent when Terri is attacked,” said Romney. “His greatest hypocrisy is the war on women. He only pays females on his congressional staff 67 cents on the dollar compared to men.”
Ayotte proudly proclaimed she brings the perspective of being a women with children, a mother, to her legislative work on the Senate Homeland Security and Armed Services committees.
Ayotte added she would like to see more women on Capitol Hill who would think about their children before voting to send U.S. soldiers into combat.
“I can’t believe that we are here. The comments being made are shocking,” Ayotte said. “We need moms who want good jobs for their children and grandchildren, and who want to keep our country safe for your children.”
Land said that she too was offended, but not shocked, by the Twitter criticism from the Peters campaign and Progress Michigan. But as the first women to be elected to serve as county clerk in Kent County, Mich., she implied that fighting this kind of prejudice is not a new experience.
“I led the charge for better work-life balance in the Kent County Clerk’s Office,” Land said. “We instituted programs to help women advance to management levels. When I left, we had more women managers than we had when we started.”
Land also said she started the same programs to help female managers as Michigan secretary of state.
“And, I am not going to be lectured to by a man who pays women on his staff 67 cents on the dollar, compared to what he pays men.”
However, when it comes to women in Michigan, Peters has their votes, at least the majority of them.
The Detroit News/WDIV poll released Oct. 7 showed Peters had a 17-point lead over Land among likely female voters in Michigan. Overall, the poll showed he is leading Land by 9 points, 44 percent to 35 percent.