April 12th, 2012
04:30 PM ET
10 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. Christine Hennessy

    Ann Rosen should not be surprised at the fire storm of anger at her remarks about Mrs. Romney not understanding working moms issues. LISTEN!!!!! ALL of us women out here working or staying at home have the same issues with this horrible devasting economy. Lets get this strainght, we all suffer when we cant afford to fill our cars up in order to get to work or take kids to school! We all suffer when the grocery store prices go up! How dare Ann Rosen try to compare anyone in this economy! Maybe she should ridicule Obama.

    April 12, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  2. ronmexico99

    "She" raised 5 kids???? Yeah, why do I think she had lots of help with nannies, butlers, gardeners, cooks, drivers, etc, etc?

    April 12, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  3. Chandra

    As a stay at home mom of 3 under 5 (so far), I can tell you it's harder than any job I've ever had outside of the home. That being said, we all know what Ms. Rosen meant. I think she just worded it wrong. Instead of "she's never worked a day in her life", perhaps she should have said, "She's never had a job outside of the home." Implying that women who stay at home to raise children don't work is ridiculous, and slightly offensive. She has the right to say anything she likes and I'm not one to demand an apology from people, but sometimes the grown up thing to do is to humble yourself and admit that you made a mistake. (and for the record, I'm not a democrat or republican and I don't like Obama OR Romney.)

    April 12, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  4. TXJim

    Babysitting is not a job for adults.

    April 12, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  5. Jared

    Ann is an amazing woman and would be a great first lady.

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

    Rosen is exactly RIGHT! Ann Romney has NEVER had a paying job. No paycheck, no supervisor, no co-workers, no transportation commuter problems. Plain and simple. She came from money and then married money. Raising kids is a job in itself, but I bet she had help from the nannies.

    April 12, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  7. StephanieM

    Rosen is right, it is not about stay-at-home Moms vs. working Moms. No matter how hard Ann Romney has work to raise her kids, she doesn't have a clue about the economic hardship working Moms in the country face when they have to work and pay for day-care. The reactions are politics as usual. Very annoying!

    April 12, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  8. S.positive

    Republican losers are at it again. Will lose this fight just as they lost the contracaption war... Losers

    April 12, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  9. Allen

    I'm sure their army of maids and nuns didn't help her raise her kids at all...

    April 12, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  10. Eric

    Perhaps poorly stated, Ann Romney has worked, but she has never had a job. Hilary Rosen's statements could have been better worded to avoid the firestorm but I agree with her sentiment; Mrs. Romney, while obviously no stranger to 'work,' is a stranger to jobs. Most women don't have the luxury of being able to be a stay at home mom (especially of five kids) and not work. Even if you are married the cost of raising even one child are high enough in America that you need the income. Plain and simple. Don't take it personally Ann. Just be honest. When you're married to a multimillionaire you have the LUXURY of being a stay at home mom. Hard work or not, that role doesn't give you any incite into the plight or working mothers or working women whatsoever.

    April 12, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. Nick

    Women are represented by republicans, feminists are represented by democrats and those 2 groups have nothing in common apart from the physical anatomy. It is high time that women take the power away from these feminists. My wife raised 4 kids, working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and that work is much much more difficult than a woman who who spends less than 24 hours/day with kids. When u are a mom, working outside the home is like a "little break". If you're stuck with the kids all the time, it is difficult. BTW, millions of women in america are conservative and pro life. feminists should stop talking in behalf of all women. Individual women should be free to speak their mind. That popularity among women that Obama enjoys is going to take a painful slide downwards.

    April 12, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  12. curiousdwk

    I didn't get the feeling that Rosen was saying that Ann Romney made a bad or a wrong choice. But Ann could and did make the choice because she is one of the few priviliged. Most women, if they had the option, would make the choice. But Tosen was saying that by making that choice, as good as it was, does not necessarily qualify her to represent the women who do not have that choice.

    There was no value judgement that I saw in Rosen's statement.

    April 12, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  13. Donald "ORANGE JULIUS" Trump

    Ann Romney seems like a nice person. But she won't be able to show anyone a W2, because she has never held outside employment. Fair enough. But at one quarter of a billion dollars in net worth, I don't want to hear Ms. Romney tell me she understands me. She never, ever will.

    April 12, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  14. Mike

    The importance of election season should not be shadowed by character debate such as this. Mrs. Rosen is a very intelligent and hard working women, but so is Mrs. Romney. Defining a "Work" is a very open ended issue.... making comment like "Mrs. Romney has not Worked a DAY in her life" is completely biased and does not belong in this campaign. I want to know where she stands going forward on issues that are important to us.... I want to know how she would handle herself as first lady....

    April 12, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  15. Ana

    Agree with Rosen 100%!!!!!!!!!! Mrs. Romney has no idea what it is working women do, and working women do not know what it is to stay at home with a bunch of kids!

    April 12, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. Fuyuko

    Eh, I don't like it when presidential or nominee's families are attacked. Go after Mitt if you like, but leave the wife, the kids out of it.

    April 12, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  17. Allen

    and nannys I mean

    April 12, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  18. tr

    Stay at home, raise your kids, and have a couple hundred million in the bank just to be sure that you can go out to dinner every now and then and keep your kids in decent clothes . . . I'd take that job in a heartbeat.

    April 12, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  19. weesnaw

    The point isn't that being a stay-at-home mom is a full time, thankless job. It's that Ann Romney had the OPTION to stay home while her husband worked.

    The majority of women today simply do not have that choice. They have to work AND be a mom. Which, in essence, is like having TWO full time, thankless jobs. Ann Romney does not know what it's like to work all day at Wal-Mart, standing on her feet in cheap shoes, only to have to come home and work for her family the rest of the night and oftentimes into the wee hours of the morning. Dirty laundry doesn't just stop happening because you are away at work.

    Ann Romney has no idea what it's like to have her water cut off because she had to choose between paying the bill and buying medicine for an ear infection. The point is she's never experienced true hardship, true poverty, the embarrassment of having a utility cut off for non-payment, the humiliation of asking for help from the Salvation Army for food, etc. She will never understand any of that because when she needs gas money, she puts her hand out, palm up, and her needs are instantly met.

    That's just how the chips fell in life for her. (Lucky you, Ann.) However, she needs to stop trying to BS the rest of us. Don't say you know what it's like to be a woman with a job and a family to support unless you've actually DONE it.

    April 12, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  20. Linda Kelly

    Who really cares about the Romneys, they are rich and unrealistic. Vote for Obama!!!

    April 12, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  21. TexDoc

    Funny, neither had our President ever worked a day in his life (except being an elected official.) That didn't seem to matter 4 years ago. His lack of work experience, his lack of business people in the white house, sure has made for a slow recovery. Homemakers work harder than anyone else I know, with no sick days, no time off, and do it with a dedication that produces some of the finest members of our society. We should celebrate, not berate them.

    April 12, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  22. kathryn

    Working dads have far less need of support in terms of balance in their lives if they have a wife who stays at home to care for them and their children. So economic support should be directed at working "outside of the home" women. Ann Romney has chosen to stay home but can since she is well supported. What is Mitt's stance on all those women who don't have that choice...should we just eliminate them from the workforce?

    April 12, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  23. Not All Docs Play Golf

    The Romney's offend with their contention that people are "jealous of success." As a physician coming from very humble beginnings, I have had my own success professionally and as a contributing member of my comunity. I am not "jealous" of the Romney's "success."

    I just resent their definition of it.

    April 12, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  24. Student

    So working Moms don't have to raise kids? That's why they work less hard than stay-at home Moms? right...

    April 12, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  25. jimmymax

    But does anyone actually believe Ann Romney is a "hands on" mom, raising those five boys? Or does she, like most other rich people, have nannies and maids and servants up the wazoo to do all the actual work? Does she wash clothes? Cook meals? Clean the house? Go out and buy groceries? I'm betting not.

    April 12, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
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