April 12th, 2012
04:30 PM ET
2 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. katahdin

    Hilary Rosen told the truth. Ann Romney is a well-kept society matron who has never had hold a job while raising children, which most mothers have to do. I'm sure Mrs. Romney is a perfectly nice person, but she's lived her life in a bubble of wealth and privilege. She has no idea of the struggles faced by the non-wealthy in America.

    April 12, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  2. With strategy like Rosen's it's a lost cause

    "Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen defended her controversial comments about Ann Romney Thursday... "

    There's no credible defence Rosen. Even your own party has stated that your comments were insensitive and inappropriate.

    Are we in denial yet?

    April 12, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  3. RabidVt

    Really Mrs. Romney? You are so upset that someone said you had "Never worked a day in her life"...and your response was that you were a stay at home mother? Yep, you were. You were a stay at home mother with $250,000,000 in the bank. That right there is the disconnect. I am sure you never had to run all over town, go to doctors appointments, do the grocery shopping, pay the bills (And wonder how you would find the money) and clean a toilet. You were a stay at home mom for the simple fact that you were a mother and you stayed at home, well stayed at home when you weren't at the spa, shopping in New York or going to a fabulous fundraiser with your empty headed plutocrat husband. It's not that Republicans hate women, it's that they seem to think they are all stupid...

    April 12, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. RB

    It's all a diversion like there are no rich democrats . And since when does a housewife not work !!!

    April 12, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  5. Stelladallas

    This is so silly; everybody knows that women who stay at home to take care of their children, usually, make great financial sacrifices to do so. They have to struggle to make ends meet with one pay check. Something that the very privileged Ann Romney can not relate to at all; this women, besides raising her children (something she has done very well), spends the other part of her time riding fancy horses and driving around in her several caddies.

    April 12, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  6. NEWERA1080

    Although being a stay at home mom is very hard work, if you've never held a real job to support your family you shouldn't get to pretend and grandstand when you know nothing about jobs or struggling to find work in the recession. Rosen has a point. I'm glad she is calling out the inability to relate to the masses.

    April 12, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  7. Anonymous

    ms.Rosen needs to apologize to Mrs Romney and all stay at home Moms! What a liberal elitist she sounds like.

    April 12, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  8. Joe

    I didnt see or her was Rosen said, only whats in this article, but how hard can being a full time mom be when your husband is loaded. My mom had to raise us plus run a restaurant. She would have to get us ready for school, do laundry, clean the house, do the shopping and all the other work involved being a mom and work 12 hour days at a restaurant on top of that. Some rich brat wants to cry on social media that his mom works hard, give me a break. The reason people are causing an uproar is because the truth hurts.

    April 12, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  9. Faith

    So telling that your headline is: DEMOCRAT defends Romney. The REAL story is what the Obama strategist said about her to begin with. WHEN will journalists start acting like journalists and get off this Obama love bus?

    April 12, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  10. TPF

    Coming friom a family of six children, this woman is so far out of touch with what it takes to be a stay at home Mom.
    My mom worked 20 hour days at home just to keep our family running smoothly. And no we were't rich with money we were rich with a great very close family. This was all due to my mom, because my Dad was bringing home the money to support our family. Now that I am a parent, I realize what my Mom had to go through on a daily basis, and believe me I would much rather work 12 hours days seven days a week, instead of staying at home working and running the household.

    April 12, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  11. blake

    Rosen just stepped in it big time. It only counts as work for a woman if she neglects her responsibilities with her husband and her children and pursues a higher family income and self-actualization through work outside the home. And this is the political party that is attracting women voters?

    April 12, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  12. Tracy Walters

    Not a bit surprising that Hilary Rosen would insult Ann Romney, and then declare that any responses to her insults were to divert attention aware from the 'real issue' ... it's a page right out of the Saul Alinsky playbook on socialist propaganda.

    I really appreciate the response from the Democrats toward Hilary Rosen, but I fear the damage is already done. Rosen has attempted to marginalize Ann Romney and some of that rhetoric always sticks. On the other hand, Hilary Rosen has also verbal insulted all stay at home Moms, and perhaps will take herself out of play in the political arena, at least for the near future.

    April 12, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. Vern

    I can see if you were to look at just the one statement, as the article's headline, it could be upsetting. When the whole statement is read I can see Hilary's point. I also agree that Families should be off limits in politics, especially children. If being a Mom is full time then get off the campaign trail and go home and be a MOM.

    April 12, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  14. TWilliams

    The issue really is about the funding that is going to be taken away from Day Care centers and early education programs.

    Let's stay on point.

    April 12, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  15. Obama 2012

    Yeah, raising kids with maids and nannies is certainly hard work. I agree with Hillary Rosen.

    April 12, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  16. pgraham52

    She has got to be kidding. This woman has worked her butt off taking care of all these children and supporting her family. This is one of the most important and difficult jobs anyone can undertake. What is it with women attacking each other. Zero class.

    April 12, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  17. Etch-a-Sketch Mitt Is Soo Plastic he Makes Mannequins Looks Real

    Ann Romney needs to get a real job!!!

    Not driving a couple of cadillacs and thinking of how many elevators will be fitted into their beach-front home in California!

    Hilary Rosen couldn't have said it better. Good call!!!

    April 12, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  18. Cody

    So true, being a full-time mom is surely harder work than being a full-time mom AND working a full-time job while living under poverty.

    April 12, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  19. wallster

    Being a full time, stay at home Mom isn't a job, it's a responsiblity that she chose. The Romney's are out of touch wealthy elitists who simply can't sympathize with working Americans who usually don't have the financial luxury of staying at home and raising their children.

    April 12, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  20. AP

    Did she offend some people with her comments? Sure. But I'm confident thinking people actually get the point she was trying to make regarding daily struggles of women not as financially comfortable or secure as Ann. Because her comments come across as insulting this whole thing has spun into something political. If all political parties just stuck to the facts and issues and the media did a better job interpreting and communicating them, Americans would be much more capable of making informed decisions impacting their lives. I hate this BS.

    April 12, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  21. Big Kahuna

    If its true then its true I don't know why its such a big deal. It is perfect fodder during an election right. While not a big deal, it was in somewhat poor taste. I really don't feel that it is a big story at all. I have heard plenty of hacks from both sides of the aisle say much worse things than this.

    April 12, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  22. nightsun2k7

    Way to go Hilary Rosen. I couldn't agree with you more. Anne Romney should just keep her mouth shut about things she has no idea of. If you've never swung a hammer, you can't possibly tell people how to drive a nail.

    April 12, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  23. me138

    sounds like the democrats are starting a war on mothers.

    April 12, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  24. Nick

    I think everyone missed the point and went for political points instead. Ann Romney is not in the same position as millions of middle class women who have to fight everyday to make that paycheck to raise their kids and pay the bills. Ann knows how to whip out her husbands credit card (which isn't a bad thing), but its not the same as the the 25 year old mom with three kids who has to earn an income in order to sustain a roof over her head and put food on the table all while trying to raise her children. Raising a family is a job.. now imagine you don't home that is paid for or vehicles that are paid for or private school that is paid for. Ann Romney did a great job.. but that's not the point... The point is most families don't have the luxury of mom staying home because the money is not an issue.

    April 12, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  25. 99%

    Same junk from the same ol democratic party....blame everyone else and we are only with you if your values match ours....if you are a christian then the democratic party will crucify you.

    April 12, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
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