US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on Sunday dismissed as "ridiculous" claims by Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney that women account for 92.3% of jobs lost since Barack Obama took over at the White House.
"It's a ridiculous argument. Ridiculous," Geithner told ABC television's "This Week" programme.
"It's been largely debunked this week by the people who have looked at it," said Geithner. "It's a ridiculous way to look at the problem," he said, adding the economic downturn "was a very damaging crisis, hurt everybody."
"You're going to see a lot of politicians choose to campaign in fiction. But we have to govern in fact,'" Geithner said.
Romney alleged that the Obama administration had waged a "war" on women, counterpunching the accusation that had been made against Republicans, by saying on the campaign trail last week that the "real war on women has been waged by the policies of the Obama administration.
"Did you know that of all the jobs lost during the Obama years, 92.3% of them are women? During the Obama years, women have suffered," the former Massachusetts governor said on the stump during a week in which working women became the dominant presidential campaign theme.
The spat underscored the importance to the general election campaign of women voters, who account for more than than their share of the population at the polls, and who broke decisively for Obama in the 2008 presidential vote.
The economic downturn, Geithner said "was a very damaging crisis" that "hurt everybody."
His remarks came after a week in which a Democratic pundit unleashed a firestorm by saying that Ann Romney, wife of the multi-millionaire Republican candidate and mother of five boys, had "never worked a day in her life."
After both the president and First Lady Michelle Obama weighed in voicing support for Ann Romney's choice to be a stay-at-home mom, Rosen retracted her comments.
In footage of a Romney speech from January that aired on Sunday on the MSNBC program "Up with Chris Hayes," the Republican contender was said he thought that low-income stay-at-home parents needed to learn the "dignity of work," in comments that apparently undercut his own campaign's outrage on the issue.