April 12th, 2012
04:30 PM ET
8 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. vic , nashville ,tn

    We can’t tolerate these type of comments this attack on rich woman who don’t work

    Hilary Rosen doesn’t have any clue Ann Romney is supervisor at home she make sure housekeepers clean the house. Chef cook good food, drivers keep the cars clean

    April 12, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  2. Russ in Md

    Ya right, We're sorry. The whole lot of you democrates are pretty sorry in my opinion.

    April 12, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  3. drumcode

    More hamburgers for her. Cheers.

    April 12, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  4. Chumlee

    Stand your ground Ms. Rosen – your point is quite valid. Ann Romney has never had to work for a pay check, and
    chances are she had a lot of help "raising her 5 children" – maids, nannys, housecleaners, etc. etc.

    Let's look at the domestic payroll for accuracy here.

    Ann Romney is fair game – she is involved in Mitten's candidacy.

    Bottom line: Ann Romney has NEVER worked for a pay check, unlike most women with children AND a job or jobs!

    April 12, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  5. Peace

    Hilary Rosen was quite right. Most of us (women) have two jobs. Taking care of the family at the same time going out to find money to feed the family. Ann Romney had only one job. Is one job the same as two jobs?????

    April 12, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  6. brad

    People do not want parents in the workforce. They always blame their kids for everything, Sorry I was late, my kid is sick, I cant come in today my kid is sick, I have to go home early, my kid is sick. If you are going to have kids, stay at home and let those of us that can actually put in a full days work get the jobs.

    April 12, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  7. Barnacle Bill

    Political Correctness, again coming from it's original source: the right. The fact is, this woman has never worked a day in her life. Apologies are not necessary for telling the truth.

    April 12, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  8. Harleigh Kiffer

    Looks like Rosen has not done any real work as she looks well fed.

    April 12, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  9. xeno

    As a middle class stay at home mom, I will not presume to understand and speak of the challenges for a woman faced with tearing down one California mansion in order to builder a bigger California mansion with a car elevator, just as I hope Ann Romney will not presume to understand or speak of the challenges of a working or middle class stay at home or (out of the house) working mother.

    April 12, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  10. natalie

    She's right–sitting around all day watching kids is not equivalent to putting up with the 9 to 5 b.s.

    April 12, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |

    The lying liberals (media included) are all over Romney and his family. Ann, his wife never worked a day in her life. What a crock of you know what – she had five children to raise and raised them well, and never took a dime of government subsidies. I can assure you there are more liberals (Democrats) than conservatives (Republicans) who never worked a day in their life. The liberals only work hard on how they could get something for nothing, and trash the conservatives. There is likely generation after generation of liberals on Welfare, WIC, etc. Lets look at the statistics and see which group, all ages included, is taking handouts from the government.

    April 12, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  12. Ipso

    That's OK. Rosen and her ilk didn't do a thing during the "wonderful" Bush years. She can ...

    April 12, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  13. govspy

    Yeah, like anyone believes Ann Romneyactually did any of the work that REAL stay-at-home moms do. Mitt probably just paid (and fired) someone to do it for her.

    April 12, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  14. Anonymous

    funny how experience did not matter when Bam was running. He never had a REAL job, Never ran a business. He was a community organizer. Now a "rich" Mom is out of touch with other mom's. Ann's father was a self made business man. I guess that does not matter. Bam's girls will be out of touch also, being that they will be the daughters of a Rich lifestyle.

    What a JOKE!

    April 12, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  15. gregory

    Hard to raise five boys with 6 maids and a 36 room house. Very hard.

    April 12, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  16. Harry T

    Isn't "Democratic Stratigist" knd of an oxymoron?

    April 12, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  17. Bob

    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."

    OK Josh Romney (whoever you are), so she is "super smart" and "chose to raise" you, in stead of getting a REAL job – whats your point??

    April 12, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. Joe

    What she said was stupid and offensive because it suggests that being a full time mom is not hard work. Her point, however, is valid. Most women do not have the luxury that Ann Romney does to stay at home and take care of the their children instead of having to earn additional income for their families. If presented with the choice between a career and staying home, different women would certainly make different choices, but at least Ann Romney had this choice. She certainly could have made her point better but she is correct that Ann Romney is out of touch with the average American woman.

    April 12, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  19. lindy226

    Now they are coming out against mothers...

    April 12, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  20. tidho

    The daycare subsidy the waitress in Nevada with two kids is getting isn't being cut because of the Ryan budget (how you can attach Romney to that at this point I'll never know, lol) but because we don't have the money to pay it.

    Tax the millionaires more?....ok, but there aren't enough of those so we're still not going to have the money to pay it.
    Repeal Obamacare?...fantastic!, but we're still not going to have money to pay it.

    Time to stop playing partisan politics with our economic reality. I wish someone would just stand up and tell the American people the truth. Hopefully Romney does during this campain.

    April 12, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  21. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Someone needs to explain to Rep Rodgers that being a full-time wife and mother when your husband takes down at least a 7, if not an 8-figure income is significantly different than a working mother who is barely making ends meet. Perhaps she, like other members of Congress, should forgo their 6-figure incomes for a year to see what life on the outside is like.

    April 12, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  22. mick

    Yes. The Democrats love choice, as long as the choice is the same as the one they would have made.

    April 12, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  23. Jam.Nat

    Leave it to Liberal Democrats to once again attack conservative women. What is new? They are condesending hypocrites and have no shame.

    April 12, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  24. Bob

    Everyone knows what Rosen meant: That Ann Romney never worked a real job – y'know, the kind that you get a paycheck for.

    April 12, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  25. Rob

    Are you kidding me? Where was the bi-partisan denunciation of Allen "The Extremist" West yesterday?!?! This is so absurd, and the top ranking Democrats just let it happen. What a bunch of push overs.

    April 12, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
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