April 12th, 2012
04:30 PM ET
3 years ago

Democrat apologizes for Ann Romney comments amid firestorm

(CNN) – Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen apologized on Thursday for her Wednesday comment about Ann Romney after the controversy went viral and drew bipartisan criticism on Twitter.

"I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended," Rosen, a Democratic operative and CNN contributor, said in a statement. "Let's declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance."

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Rosen generated bipartisan criticism Wednesday night for her statement that Romney has "actually never worked a day in her life."

On CNN's "The Situation Room" Thursday, she said, "I hope Ms. Romney knows that I didn't mean it personally," and called the criticism of her typical "politics."

"The Republicans slammed and came at this pretty quickly. People who know me know that I didn't intend that. But my words were not very good, you know, if they want to play politics with it, that's fine."

Earlier on Thursday, she said the conversation shouldn't be about working moms versus stay-at-home moms, but rather about creating economic opportunity.

"This is not about Ann Romney," Rosen said on CNN. "This is about the waitress in a diner in some place in Nevada who has two kids whose day care funding is being cut off because of the Romney/Ryan budget and she doesn't know what to do."

Republicans were attacking her to divert attention from policies that negatively impacted women and reflected "Republican's desire to change the subject," she said.

"I think the issue that I'm focusing on is does Mitt Romney have a vision for bringing women up economically, and can he himself stop referring to his wife as his economic surrogate? That's an important thing. He's the one that keeps doing this. Not me," Rosen continued.

Rosen made her original comments on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" on Wednesday.

"What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country, saying, 'Well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues, and when I listen to my wife, that's what I'm hearing.' Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life," Rosen said on CNN.

"She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority off the women in this country are facing, in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and why do we worry about their future," Rosen continued, adding that Romney "just seems so old fashioned when it comes to women."

The reaction from high level politicos was instant and virtually unanimous: Rosen had gone too far. And by Thursday afternoon, the Republican National Committee was fundraising off of the comment.

Responding to the comments, Ann Romney argued Thursday that her "career choice" was to be a mother.

"Other women make other choices to have a career and raise a family which I think Hilary Rosen has actually done herself. I respect that. That's wonderful," Romney said on Fox News. "But you know there are other people that have a choice. We have to respect women in all those choices that they made."

She initially responded Thursday night, launching her own Twitter account with her first tweet saying, "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work."

Rosen's comments drew instant criticism from campaign advisers on both sides of the aisle, as well as one of Romney's sons.

Josh Romney posted on Twitter that his mother "is one of the smartest, hardest working woman I know. Could have done anything with her life, chose to raise me." Another Romney son, Tagg, echoed his mother's comments by "re-tweeting" them.

First lady Michele Obama's Twitter feed on Thursday read, "Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected."

Campaigning in New Hampshire on Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden was asked if Rosen's comments went too far.

"Absolutely. Absolutely," he said.

David Axelrod, the senior adviser to President Barack Obama's reelection bid, distanced the campaign from the comments on Twitter.

"Also Disappointed in Hilary Rosen's comments about Ann Romney. They were inappropriate and offensive," Axelrod wrote.

Rosen said Thursday, "Whatever David Axelrod says is fine with me."

Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter posted, "Families must be off limits on campaigns, and I personally believe stay at home moms work harder than most of us do."

Several press aides to Romney's campaign - Andrea Saul, Ryan Williams, and Amanda Henneberg - posted links tying Obama to Rosen, such as her appointment as a DNC adviser and her appearance at a White House event.

According to Obama's campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt, Rosen does not have a formal role on the president's reelection campaign. Melanie Roussell, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, also said Rosen had no formal role at the organization.

Romney campaign strategist Eric Fehrnstrom wrote, "Obama adviser Hilary Rosen goes on #CNN to debut their new "kill Ann" strategy, and in the process insults hard-working moms."

A fundraising email from the RNC invited supporters to buy a travel mug marked with the words "Moms Do Work" and "Vote GOP."

"As someone who has experience being both a stay-at-home mom and a working mother, I can tell you that being a mom is the most important job there is," RNC co-chairwoman Sharon Day wrote in the message. "It's certainly challenging, but it's also extremely rewarding and I wouldn't have it any other way."

Eric Erickson, a CNN political contributor and editor of a conservative website, appeared on the same panel as Rosen, and tweeted, "If raising 5 sons through breast cancer and MS isn't a real job, I'm not sure what is."

The comment drew criticism from a Republican member of Congress, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, who posted, "Wrong. Being a mom is a full-time job."

Also see:

Obama ahead in New Jersey, even with Christie on ticket

Florida Rep labels congressional Democrats as Communists

Barbour won't formally endorse Romney, but offers advice


Filed under: 2012 • Ann Romney
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Independant Texan

    AND !!!!!! Every non-Repub understood what she meant.

    April 12, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  2. Bill, NY

    The true has a way of ticking people off.

    April 12, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  3. Sniffit

    Somewhat tactless way to make the point, one must admit, but point made...and that's what's kicked the anthill. Scurry, little GOPers, scurry.

    April 12, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  4. Sniffit

    "Romney campaign strategist Eric Fehrnstrom wrote, "Obama adviser Hilary Rosen goes on #CNN to debut their new "kill Ann" strategy, and in the process insults hard-working moms." "

    She has ZERO connections to his campaign. Nice lie though. And thank you, CNN, for uncritically reprinting it sans correction. Who needs journalism when you can fan a redmeat controversy instead?

    April 12, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  5. usamoose

    So she still saying that Stay at home Mom's & Dad's are not working people. Thanks You just lost my vote this November.

    April 12, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    I can understand why the Obama campaign wants to distance themselves from Rosen, because they don't want to be seen as the side that's throwing punches at spounses. But, I still don't see why they have thrown Rosen completely under the bus.

    Rosen's observation about Ann Romney having never worked a day in her life is apparently true. Rosen was remarking about Ann Romney never having been a part of the workforce. Republicans are spinning the remark into attacks on Ann Romney's duty as a mother to her children, which is obfuscating the discussion.

    Romney probably has never worked a day her in life. Ann Romney claiming that she "made a choice" shows just how out of touch with the realities facing middle class mothers. Most middle class mothers don't have the luxury of making that choice. Considering that the average middle class wage would not support a couple and five kids, both spouses would be in the workforce. Ann Romney has spent her life in a bubble just like her husband has, and it shows.

    April 12, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  7. Karen

    I think this is that Rosen doesn't like Women who are married to men and give birth.

    April 12, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  8. Fair is Fair

    What a piece of work this one is. Betcha she's never on CNN again and winds doing commentary on MSNBC.

    April 12, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. Paul

    It's clear Rosen means she hasn't worked in the economy. No one is saying raising kids is easy, but it gives you absolutely no insight into women and the economy. If anything, it hurts it because it strengthens the stereotype that women belong at home.

    April 12, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  10. puzzled

    So the Romney campaign wants to put Ann on the campaign trail and have her speak about women's issues but no one is allowed to criticize her because she's Romney's wife?

    April 12, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  11. Melissa

    Is it about Ann Romney when you attack her. Backpedal all you want, you directly invoked her name and commented on her life. So wrong

    April 12, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  12. chaing

    "never worked a day in her life". Not surprised goes with the garage elevator. Ms. Rosen you are right on! Probably had nanies, house keepers and the Bishop helping her out. How can these people really relate to most women's issues let alone the majority of people in this country?

    April 12, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  13. Bayousara

    I raised two kids while working 30 hrs a week and attending college full-time. With lots of money, kids are easy to raise. I would have given anything to be a "stay at home mom." We are talking here about women in the out of the home work force, that is what this is all about. That is a totally different world than working as a homemaker. We hashed all of this over from 1960 to 1980 and I thought we had it worked out. Ann Romney is a spoiled rich housewife and she has never worked outside the home (except at church) in her entire life. That is what I would have said.

    April 12, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  14. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Ann's children are in their late 20's and in their 30's. Ann could have spent the last 12 years in a working environment, but fortunately, their family does not need the income. Contrast that to a working mom who has to juggle work, a family, rent, utilities, car payments, and you can see Ann is a little reality challenged.

    April 12, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  15. Cherie

    This women is so clueless. No class

    April 12, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  16. J. Richter

    Hilary Rosen did speak the truth actually.

    April 12, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  17. Randy, San Francisco

    Advice to Rosen: Not a good idea to attack the wife of the presumptive nominee unless you are sure it will stick. Nothing wrong with a stay at home mom with honest opinions, right or wrong. Apologize for the remarks and move on. The real target is her husband, severely conservative Romney.

    April 12, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  18. Annie, Atlanta

    You know, I'm kind of sick of things getting blown out of proportion on levels that defy logic. I heard what Rosen said, and she was correct. I stayed home and raised 2 sons, and yes, it was hard work. But I wasn't responsible for bringing home the bacon as it were, so I didn't have to provide the roof over their heads, clothing, food, and education. My husband did that. Ann Romney, just like me, doesn't know what it's like to work a full day, come home to the kids, and be financially responsible for the existance. Why is that so wrong to say? Please tell me. I don't get it. Is it that just everything, including the killing of a 17 year old boy, has to be political? This is baffling, and frustrating.

    April 12, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  19. Eddie Landou

    I'm on Hilary's side here. This is just another example of the ridiculous lengths that we go to to "make news" or stir up controversy. I think phrase "faux anger" was perfect in describing the situation, although I wouldn't be surprised if some people were legitimately upset as well. Those folks are probably combing the news for anything to confirm their existing bias, and jumped on the opportunity to demonize "the Democrats." Don't get me wrong, both sides of the political spectrum are guilty of the same, but I am terribly sick of every comment made that isn't completely vanilla sparking outrage. I admire those who speak common sense and sincerity, even though there are plenty who will make their lives miserable for doing so.

    April 12, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  20. barbara

    I think attacking for making these kinds of comments about any candidates' wife is off limits. I doubt that Michelle Obama has had to worry about how she is going to feed her kids. Believe me, having 5 kids... boys no less... is hard work. I have two boys and that's hard work enough. Just because Ann Romney is a stay at home mom, doesn't mean that she doesn't think about or is concerned about the economic problems in the country. And really, what causes has Michelle Obama championed while being first lady? Hilary Rosen's comments were definitely a put down of Ann Romney and all stay at home moms. There was a hint of envy.

    April 12, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  21. Mgc tampa

    Enough of this silliness, Ann Romney may have stayed home to raise her sons but to say she can relate to women who don't have cooks, maids, drivers gardners is stupid. Sure it may have still been hard but nothing like what most women go through raising kid and working. For Romney to say she understands just shows how out of touch he his. Having said that, I believe families should be off limits so lets move on. But please no sympathy for Ann, she is doing just fine.

    April 12, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  22. Bill

    No one said Ann Romney wasn't a hard worker or that raising kids was easy, what was said is that Ann Romney has never had to face the types of economic concerns many other American women have to face in regards to feeding their children, shooling the future. etc. Ann Romney had the luxury of being able to stay home and did not have to worry about the economic concerns of otehr American women. As a result, Ann doesn't know what the rest of the world is going through and if Mitt wants to get his advice from Ann about what 1% of women care about, then fine. But Ann is a very poor source for economic policies or concerns for the rest of America

    April 12, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  23. Jeff in Virginia

    Hilary Rosen wants us all to forget the truly evil things that she did as the head of the RIAA. Do not let her whitewash her past.

    Obama and the Democrats need to dump this lady like yesterday's garbage.

    April 12, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  24. Monali Khandagle

    Unlike Ann Rommey, most women these days are forced to do the real 'hard work' of a real job to pay bills and put food on the table, in addition to raising children, doing actual housework, even while dealing with disabling medical conditions. Plus, we also can only afford to have only one or two children. If you have more and can still stay at home, the rest of the real working women would appreciate your graciousness in acknowledging the reality of the luxury of your 'stay at home' lifestyle.

    April 12, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  25. nibiro

    If Mit Ronney gets it we should be in space by 2016 :) if he gets it nibiro ?

    April 12, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
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