Appearing alongside Ernst in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Romney hailed the conservative upstart as a "real Iowan in a lot of respects."
"She was raised here, she worked on a farm," Romney told the crowd, as quoted by the Des Moines Register. "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."
He was referring to a memorable television ad from the Ernst campaign, but some Democrats thought it was a rich line coming from Romney.
.@MittRomney says shld vote for woman bc she didn't just "sit at home." What's his prob w stay at home moms? #2012 http://t.co/eJW83TAXWh
— Lis Smith (@Lis_Smith) May 30, 2014
WTF? Did Mitt Romney really just slander stay at home moms while campaigning for @joniernst? #iasen http://t.co/9joHYNk9qp
— Gwen Rocco (@gwenrocco) May 30, 2014
Pretty sure @MittRomney just condemned stay at home moms today when he praised Ernst for not staying at home a needle pointing.
— Steven D'Amico (@stevenjldamico) May 30, 2014
It may have been sweet payback for Democrats who still haven't forgotten the furor that surrounded Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen in the spring of 2012.
Rosen said during an appearance on CNN at the time that Mitt Romney's wife, Ann, had "never worked a day in her life."
The remark sparked an uproar among Republicans and Romney's campaign, who even tried to tie Rosen to President Obama (even though she was not employed by Obama's campaign or the Democratic National Committee).
It may have even been the impetus for Ann Romney to join Twitter, whose first tweet came shortly after Rosen's comment.
I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.
— Ann Romney (@AnnDRomney) April 12, 2012