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. mcp123

    OK...let us democrats apologize and say we're sorry...but mormons... stop airing all the videos that your women made a "choice" to be stay at home moms. No...your religion made them that way.

    Just be honest...

    April 12, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  2. Jules

    While I understand what is stated by Rosen in this article, one has to wonder what kind of people are used as spokespersons. Was Rosen just too dumb to know what this would lead to. I'm a huge Obama supporter, but as the mother of 4 sons, believe me, Ann Romney worked. While I am sure she never had bills left unpaid at the end of the monthly income and she never had to plan menues to meet a budget, to belittle her role as a wife and a mother plays right into the GOP hands. Come on, people, do you not have any forsight as to what kind of ramifications come from your idiotic statements?

    April 12, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  3. Working

    Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, who posted, "Wrong. Being a mom is a full-time job."
    - that someone has to pay for, a fact that none of these women failed to realize.

    April 12, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  4. Hingie

    Ann has class. Something this regime and its members know nothing about.

    April 12, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  5. Kyon

    women should stay in the kitchen, sign me up to be a Republican. I don't have an opinion on most things, but this I can like. If Romney becomes President, "HELLO POLYGAMY" he will restore Mormonism to its original glory and free them to have polygamy.

    April 12, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  6. Wiseman

    Abviously Hilary Rosen does not consider raising a family, being a supportive wife, and perhaps Ann is also a sister and aunt as 'work.' Tell Ms Rosen if SHE ever plans ot run for office, or advise those who do, perhaps it would not be a good idea to negate the non-corporate woman vote because THEY PROBABLY WORK JUST AS HARD, IF NOT HARDER than wage-earning woman.

    April 12, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  7. Sane

    I tend to vote republican but an independent. I agree with observation of Hilary Rosen. I will not vote for Romney for this one reason. I dont believe any one in his family understands what it is like to work for a pay check. I feel that they will not understand my life to help.. I dont take a single dime out of government welfare and I hardly can take any deduction that Romney takes..When I get a stock option exercised at work, I pay very high takes that I feel itsnt worth it sometimes. I believe Hilary Rosen is right.. I dont believe the Romney's understand common American man/women.

    April 12, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  8. Thomas Covenant

    "Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen defended her controversial comments ..."

    With a strategist like this Obama's campaign might just as well go home.

    April 12, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  9. Angela

    I think people are missing the point here. Rosen was making the connection that how could Romney's wife know ANYTHING about the economics of jobs if she has never worked for anyone? Romney constantly is referring to his wife's opinion...which doesn't matter....I want to know HIS opinion. How can she understand that most families NEED both parents working. I woud love to have the choice to stay home with my kids, but I can't because I have to work. So as insensitive as her comment sounds, I think I understand what she really meant and on that level I agree with her. I would not ask advice from a person who has never had a day when she worried where the money was giong to come from. PERIOD.

    April 12, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  10. No Dice

    A great deal of smoke, damned little fire. Let the silly season begin.

    April 12, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  11. Melissa

    Mrs.Romney is so classy. Learn from her, Ms.Rosen.

    April 12, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  12. both-parties-are-corrupt

    I guess if you consider "semi-professional equestrian" work ...

    She also attended a private school and married Mitt immediately following his Mission in France.

    April 12, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  13. Guest

    My wife received her Masters in Education, had a career with antiques and decided after being in the workforce, to have and raise and teach our children. My wife works harder now and loves every minute of it.

    Sorry to disappoint you Hilary! Get a life!

    April 12, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  14. The King

    No sale. She has never had a job outside the household her adult life, Rosen is right. Also, has any of mittens children had a job where they didn't work for daddy? I would say her statement could also apply to his born of prvilege, pampered boys.

    April 12, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  15. Ben Dover

    Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life. Her only frame of reference is other mormon women and how they live. She's a fembot who knows little, if anything, about the common man.

    April 12, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  16. James

    Yes cause it wasnt you Rosen who brought up Mrs. Romney to begin with when asked the question. Another example or someone tuly out of touch claiming others are the ones out of touch. You might as well say Michele Obama is not a real working mother because she isnt a waitress. All mothers regardless work hard to make the family work and raising kids is not easy. I give a lot of credit to my wife who yes does work outside the home and is a full time mother as well. She wants to be a stay home mother and you know what. Those mothers who go out to buy groceries or fill up the car with gas or sees their spouses trying to earn money knows more about the economy than mot politicians and it seems even you Rosen.

    April 12, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  17. AC

    Insult to mothers everywhere. Good job Obama campaign. This will SURELY score you points with the women vote you need so badly...

    April 12, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  18. Rosemary Peppercorn

    Oh, who cares? It's this sort of silliness we have to read now, until November? Of course Romney is a clueless candidate, but I don't want to hear about this back and forth stuff until Election Day. It's all insignificant.

    April 12, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  19. Ari

    I think Rosen's point is that Ann Romney has never had the worries that working mothers have so how could she possibly have her finger on the pulse of what working women are worred about? Frankly I agree with her. Yes being a stay at home mom is hard but you know being a working mom is a lot harder, especially if you are a single working mom. You have to do all of the same things a SAH mom does without the luxury of time to do it because you are working 40+ hours a week to provide for your children.

    April 12, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  20. Ben Dover

    Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life. Her only frame of reference is other mormon women and how they live. She knows little, if anything, about the common man.

    April 12, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. Bradley Pine

    Both points are true – being a stay at home mom and raising 5 children is very very hard work and very very important work, and it is also unlikely, given Mrs. Romney's experience, that she would have much insight into the lives and struggles of working moms or moms who have struggles brought on by the difficult economy or other things like bias that limits advancement in the workplace.

    April 12, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  22. Dallas

    Go Ann Romney!

    April 12, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  23. Single Parent

    Ann Romney is clueless about what it take in today's world to be a single parent and raise 1 son, let alone 5. I'd bet a years worth of rent money that she has house cleaners, at all their houses, drivers and other folks to do her work. She has never had to make the choice how to spend her last $20.00 before her next check in 8 days, gas or milk and bread!

    Get real, Ann Romeny is a very privileged lady who's connection with common folks is disjointed. After all, her husband is the one who stated he didn't make that much money on speaking engagements...just a few hundred thousand! The audacity of these rich people trying to relate to lower/middle class...

    April 12, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  24. RJ

    And yet they still don't understand what Rosen said but only focuses on what they thought they heard.

    April 12, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  25. Lizzie

    Great now if your a stay at home mom, your not worth anything in the eyes of liberals.

    April 12, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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