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. Woman In California

    The TRUTH hurts doesn't it? Hilary Rosen told the truth. Ann Romney knows absolutely nothing outside of her privileged life and has no experience whatsoever to give to working women ANYWHERE.

    Our First Lady has two Ivy league degrees, married BEFORE she had children and worked in the "real world" and yet she has been called all kind of names – some pig even went so far as to insult her weight and now we must all bow down and apologize to this Mormon woman. Please. Neither she nor her husband know anything outside of their millionaire world and I hope the American people come to understand this before it is too late. Again, Hilary Rosen was spot on.

    April 12, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  2. sean

    She has never had a job or career in a working filed which is paid. She did not say she has never been a parent before. Anyone smart enough to understand knows what she really meant.

    April 12, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  3. makessense

    Ms. Rosen is actually correct. She cited a disconnect that is very relevant in our society today. It did sound like she slammed Mitt Romney for even "invoking" his wife into his campaign by being a mother, not one who has had to seek a better life for her children by finding employment versus just finding a man with some money. We all know someone like that and I don't feel bad or good for those that go that route.

    April 12, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  4. PVT_Citizen

    no one is saying that raising kids is not a hard job....because it is... What Hilary Rosen is saying...Ann Romney has never had a job where she had to get paid based on her skills, where she had a boss or was a boss that produced growth in this nation, where she had to work 9-5 and be a productive member of a workforce, where she had to...oh hell, if you don't get it now you never will...so kiss off... she has never had a job where she had to work for a living...period...

    April 12, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  5. Scott

    It's a ploy to make sure Romney gets needed attention, to make sure he drowns out Gingrich and Paul.

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

    Being a stay-at-home Mo rmon mom may be a full-time job, but it sure as he ll 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 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  7. Anonymous

    Oh, please... what she said is TRUE and justified!

    April 12, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  8. Jim970

    It used to be that family members were off limits. After all, Ann Romney isn't running for president, her husband is. Obama, in his presidential campaign, said his family was off limits. Everyone honored that. However, up steps the Republican candidate for vice president. The left was tripping over each other to attack her family and spread vicious rumors. So, here we go again.

    April 12, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  9. Sandy

    I take offense to the part where Ann Romney is quoted as saying, in response to the assertion that she has never had a job, that she chose to stay home and raise her boys – calling it hard work and her job presumably......Does she not think that women that go into the workforce and EARN money to support themselves (and their children) do not ALSO raise their children?

    I think what Ms. Rosen means – Ann Romney has lived a life of luxury paid for by someone else. She has never had to get a job and earn her way. This is not whether she did not work hard raising her children or whether raising children is not work. Lets not get into this raising children and cleaning the home is or is not work – please.......

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

    According to this pundit, If Mrs Romney hasn't worked to know the struggles of women and economy, then what qualifies Mr and Mrs Obama to run the country, leave alone the economic recovery?

    April 12, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  11. Rose

    The Romney camp must stop the phony outrage over Rosen comments! Ann Romney is no no typical stay at home mom! 99% of the women in America do NOT have the luxury to stay at home! They do not have maids and butlers and millions of dollars and that is what Rosen was saying – Ann Romney cannot fathom what women go through! Romney is trying to gain women support by using Ann Romney. She is therefore fair game!

    April 12, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  12. Jen B

    Rosen could have definitely phrased it better, but I think her point was that Ann has always had her husband to fall back on and hasn't had to worry about balancing a wage paying job that takes her out of the home with raising a family. It's becoming harder and harder, which is why more and more women are choosing not to have kids. Plus, let's face it, most home-makers are only considered important around voting time (and even then only marginally–btw this excludes the ones married to rich men who are allowed to spend their husband's fortunes). Home-making is a dead-end "job" that doesn't prepare you to do anything outside of the home. A McDonalds cashier would be considered more hireable than a stay at home mom.

    April 12, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  13. Doug

    Rosen is absolutuely correct. Sure, being a stay at home mom is hard work, but in this day and age it is a luxury that only the rich can afford. Rosen never said that Mrs. Romney was a bad person or less vauluable than a working mother or anything of the sort. She was simply making a point that Mrs. Romney wasn't the best source of information regarding the ecomomic issues facing the 99%. Shame on all of you that attacked her so vigorously. And double shame on anyone that thinks Mrs. Romney understands what working moms in this country need.

    April 12, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  14. JEM

    Stay at home moms do NOT work harder than most of us do!!!! They dont have a boss to deal with, co-workers, customer service reviews, sales goals etc. etc. They do have a difficult job but the pressures and resposabilities are like comparing apples and oranges......plus they can take this kid/s to the park in the middle of the day. Do you know what I would do to be able to WORK in the park!!??

    April 12, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  15. robert m. vucsko

    The mere idea that ANY monied politician.., OR their spouse, is, IN ANY WAY, actually 'in-touch'.., or can truely 'understand' the everyday struggle-of-life, which encompasses MOST Americans.., is A B S U R D. This is just blather, propaganda, saying-what-they-wanna-hear.., call it what-you-will, but do not call it accurate. If you believe any of this, you deserve Mitt Romney.., and his wife.

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

    Being a stay-at-home Mormon mom may be a full-time job, but it sure the hell doesn't make her 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 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  17. Sam

    Hilary Rosen are correct and telling the truth. Is the Romney's trying to tell us and convince us a milliners wife with so many house in different state is doing house work? She probably have tucked in her kids after they went to bed. So please don't look upon us. I even know those who are less reacher than the Romney's hired domestic workers even the illegal one... well unless like Romney said " “I'm running for office, for Pete's sake"

    April 12, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  18. Sam

    Give me a break,she is not a hard working Mother,I am sure she has a lot of people working in her House Nanny Butler etc, Rosen is absolutely right Romney and his Family are part of one 0/0 they don`t know how the rest of us leave and they don`t care Romney him self said that.

    April 12, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  19. Duane - St. Pete FLA

    back pedel back pedel......this chick runs her mouth and gets her self into trouble all the time. She's trying to hard. What a dumb statement........

    April 12, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  20. marcyles

    Nice that Ann Romney CHOSE to stay home to raise her children. Many mothers do not have the CHOICE. I think that is Hilary Rosen's point. Many women in this county are raising their children AND holding down full time jobs. Many are the ONLY bread winner. I agree with Hilary; I have raised two children, put myself through law school, and have been employed all my adult life. Raising children is very hard work; raising children AND being employed is about 100 times harder. So, enough of all this phoney outrage from people who have no idea about what many women in this country are facing everyday without having CHOICES about whether they would like to have to earn some money.

    April 12, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  21. Phil Ologus

    Rosen: "I think the issue that I'm focusing on is does Mitt Romney have a vision for bringing women up economically." So Rosen "THINKS" this is the issue she is making? Rosen doesn't know what point she is making? Odd. If it were a genuine statement, sh ewould have said, 'The point I am making is...', or, 'The point is...'

    April 12, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  22. US guard

    I can not even imagine a person's mind who never worked. How twisted it is. This person will never ever understand the reality of other moms and dads who are out of work for months and can not pay their bills. Shame on this system, where millionarie can buy presidency.

    April 12, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  23. db

    Isn't it obvious that Hilary Rosen has lost all since of decent behavior and now is of questionable association. This woman who attacks another for no reason other than to make herself look important should be given the cold shoulder from every political enity around. Who wants to be associated with someone like that, it makes them look just as bad. Personal attacks that are not politically motivated is the worst mud slinging from subbasement levels of behavior. Hilary Rosen, just go away and return to your normal job of garbage slinging.

    April 12, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  24. zip

    Imagine the dilemma of trying to decide which Cadillac to drive. My God!

    April 12, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  25. AC

    WILLARD is a joke. He has been trying to be President forever. WHY?

    April 12, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
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