Speed Reads

campaign 2014

Mitt Romney says Joni Ernst 'didn't just sit at home needle-pointing'

JUSTIN SULLIVAN/Getty Images

While helping rally support for Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst (you know, the woman who "grew up castrating hogs"), the Des Moines Register reports that Mitt Romney said: "She didn't just sit at home needle-pointing, as you know, she was doing some work on the farm — squealing work on the farm."

We know what the squealing reference was about. And, of course, Romney said a lot of other stuff that won't make any headlines. But some in the press seized on the needle-pointing line, and it's worth asking why.

Perhaps it was just Romney's way of saying that Ernst is a hard worker. For example, if I were to say that I went to college — and didn't just take basket weaving classes — you'd know what I meant. But it's also likely that some will hear the needle-pointing line and suspect it's really about gender norms. It was a bit reminiscent of Hillary Clinton's famous line: "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas."

This isn't likely to cause Ernst any serious problems. But it is yet another example of Romney's penchant for saying awkward things.