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. Damien

    Rosen is right. Ann Romney hasn't a clue what 99% of American parents struggle with economically, while both working and raising children.

    April 12, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  2. lmc2

    Ms Rosen apparently has never raised 5 kids. This insulting campaign procedure does not win appreciation for Ms Rosen's candidate. It does make Ms Rosen look like a fool.

    April 12, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  3. crabbyappleton

    spare me YOUR faux comments...do you think Ann Romney just sits at home all day and watch her nails grow? I think not...has she never helped with civic or charitable events? There are ways to work (that also benefit and help others) without collecting income. Once again the media attempts to destroy someone with foolish comments? why dont you write something about what she HAS done ? Or better yet? do some good (without collecting income) yourself

    April 12, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  4. Dewey

    While at home "raising" sons, via Nannies, other women were just staying above water. My question: Mormon's don NOT have to serve in the Armied Services. Wonder if any of the Romney son's have ever got their hands dirty to fight for their right to worship?

    April 12, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  5. dozedoff

    Of course she's never worked a day in her life, she's a republican... they get fat off the taxes on the poor and the procedes from invading other countries. Do you think Dick Cheney worked? Nope, gold ok kickbacks from hali n friends kept his pockets filled. I bet if they asked her how many homes she owned, there would be too many for her to remember lol

    April 12, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  6. sogooden

    I have nothing against stay at home moms. If that is your choice. But do I feel they work harder than most of us, no I don't. You have to have the means to do that. I have been a single parent for years. I have put my kids through school, my youngest will graduate HS next year. I have done this ALONE. I have held a full time job since HS. I completed college and served in the military. All done ALONE. No nanny, no housekeeper, no rich husband!!!! Did I choose this, no. I was the only who stayed and took on the responsibility. I would never consider myself the best parent, I was the available one. She and her husband could never stand in my shoes, much less walk in them.

    April 12, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  7. lorraine

    Forget the Ann, Mitt Romney does not have any chances of becoming the president. At this point of time Republicans unfortunately does not have the right candidate to beat very bad president Obama.....Period...

    April 12, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  8. Monica

    Maybe if Rosen had said that "Mrs. Romney is not a fair example of the 'typical' American mom, who is not afforded the option to be a stay-at-home mom and actually has to WORK SECULARLY outside of the home to put food on the table". Instead of getting hung up on a technicality in her statement, understand what Rosen was actually 'saying' in her statement. As a wife and mother of two, it takes both my husband and I to work outside of the home to make ends meet. After working 8 hours, my home duties must also get accomplished each and everyday. A secular "working" mother in a sense has double duty! I agree with Rosen...that is all...

    April 12, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  9. Marc C

    Wow, two articles from CNN giving Rosen a chance to explain away her comments. Shouldn't one of the articles focus on her statement and why it is in fact outrageous? Instead you simply take to swings at trying to tell why it isn't what it appears to be...a very biased view of what is work for a woman.

    April 12, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  10. Danny

    what a crock, She chose to stay home and raise five kids that is fine, no one said that raising kids is not hard work, but there are women and men that do this by themselves and work full time as well. Mitt Romney brought this on buy saying he asks his wife tells him what women want, how would she know first hand if she is not juggling work and raising kids at the same time? Most middle class women work and raise a family, and I don't believe she has to worry about do I put gas in the car or put food on the table. If wives are off limits in campaigns them the men running in them should bring them up as helping them gauge what women in America want.

    April 12, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  11. HPN

    While it is true raising 5 kids is tough, but not when you have servants.

    April 12, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  12. Capitalism

    Typical liberal statement and tactic. Trying to fuel the fire with a made up war on women strategy. Anything to take the focus off Obama's job performance and record. Obama has a record he must run from not run on.

    April 12, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  13. Gary Goodwin

    I'm sure Mrs. Romney had a tough time raising 5 boys with the help of maids,cooks and nannies.

    April 12, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  14. Jerry

    Unfortunate incident, but shows the distain some liberal women have for stay-at-home mothers. Their belief is women who stay at home to raise their children are wasting their lives. Sad.

    April 12, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. anna

    Yes being a mum is full time work – but what about the women who dont have the luxury of staying at home to do that work? What about the mums that have to take care of the children get them off to school then go out to work herself?
    Ann Romney may have worked hard raising her children but I bet she had some help, and she didnt have to rush off to do another job. She could sit down and have a cup of coffee any time she wanted, not such a hard life!

    April 12, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  16. livedinMass

    Of course she had no economic worries – even being a stay-at-home mom! Her husband made a enough money that she didn't have to worry! She doesn't have a clue – *HE* doesn't have a clue. And I agree with – neither one of them, nor their keids (who have millions in trust funds and want for nothing) have NO CLUE WHAT THE MAJORITY OF US HAVE TO deal with, regardless on whether the woman is a stat-at-home-mom or a working mom! If he's elected he will run the country like his business – get rid of the 'loosers' and keep the money-makers. Think carefully about him!

    I also knnow for a fact that he'll say ANYTHING to get elected, then does what he pleases and not what he says. The only way to stop him will to have a mostly Democratice HOuse & Senate.

    Baby Boomers beware!

    April 12, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  17. Grundoon

    In Rosen's defense, she is basically correct. While raising children is hard work – I know this, I do it too – It is a much different experience for those rasing children with the support of a wealthy husband as opposed to those rasing children in middle class and lower economic conditioned environments. THAT is the entire point here. The Romneys have absolutely no idea what most of us go through. None what so ever.

    April 12, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  18. Tim Lester

    Maybe Hilary Rosen should marry Ozzie Guillen. They shound equally intelligent. It is a small mind tmind that can';t make a point without putting others down. It is a particularlly small mind that goes further and puts people down with inaccurate statements. I hope indeed Hilary actually knows what is like to work hard. Otherwise she is also a hypocrite which would not be surprising.

    April 12, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  19. MB

    Why should my money go to help some "Nevada waitress" pay for her kid's daycare costs? She should have made better decisions in life and gone to get a formal education. My wife and myself each hold several degrees. We made the correct choices in life. The waitress should have done the same.

    April 12, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  20. Jim Stanek

    Being a stay-at-home Mormon mom may be a full-time job, but it sure as hell doesn't make Ann an expert on women's economic issues, or even at least someone Mitt should be consulting on such matters in his campaign.

    April 12, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  21. allens

    what is the fuss? what she said was accurate. what does she know about the plight of the 99% of real woman? both romneys are lacking empathy and understaning of the 99%

    April 12, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  22. rcchev

    Raising kids is hard work but when your husband is a millionaire it's not that hard!! think of all of the assistance that comes with wealth. She is not a working mother in the sense that she stays up at night wondering how she will afford a school field trip, or how she will take care of the day to day needs of her familty.

    Then her husband doesn't want to disclose how much money he really has so that Real Americans will not see how out of touch he really is!! Give me a break...and by the way how much in taxes did the Romney's pay for 2011?

    April 12, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  23. PitBull

    This Rosen woman can't defend the indefensible. What a cheap shot!
    I am a WOMAN who stayed at home for years to bring up a family – that was MY decision and has nothing to do with ANYONE else – let alone a politician. As a wife and mother Anne Romney has the RIGHT to do the same.

    Bipartisan outrage – GOOD. But I suspect that the DEMOCRATS who are "outraged" are furious that Rosen has seriously damaged Obama's main election ploy................defending WOMEN from the Republicans!

    What's he going to do now? He sure can't run on his record . Headline News.... "Democrats snner at Aany WOMAN who refuses to work" Thanks Rosen!

    April 12, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  24. Rene Alingasa

    Hilary Rosen, you don't know what you are talking about. Just because you work to earn a living does not make you an expert what women are sufferring under the Obama administration. Deflecting the real issue of sliding dollar value due to over spending by the Obama administration and just blaming it to Bush but not being a leader who got guts to reign in big government spending is the main issue. Your dirty tactic of dragging Ann Romney into your dirty corrupt practice will not solve the US woes but contributing to it by portraying heroes in American society like stay at home mom's raising their kids to become stable good responsible citizen's as villains in your point of view along with your other ultra liberal cohorts in the media. Stop hiding from your dirty tactic by being trying to help a poor waitress when in fact you are saying something about yourself – out of touch with reality. Stop lying , America is broken ! Obama can not solve US woes proven by almost 4 years he is in the WH. The economy is sputtering because of the lack of confidence by wealthy people to invest into the economy not by the middle class as Obama claims. I'm a middle class sliding down to the lower class because of the economy .

    April 12, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  25. rustoleum

    finally a democratic leader that openly states that stay at home moms do nothing at all and are just plain ignorant. This will be a boost to all those men that work hard all day and come home to a dirty house and have to help with the kids and everything else. Damn silly stay at home wives.

    April 12, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
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