April 12th, 2012
04:30 PM ET
9 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. John

    Being a mom is not a full time job. It may be as hard, it may be more work, but it is not a job when we are talking about economics and women in the workforce. Stop pretending.

    April 12, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  2. David

    If she, or any female, wants to be a stay-at-home mom, then that is their choice. By saying all women have to work to be relevant, as what she seems to be implying, is attacking women more than anything Mitt Romney has done. Just my opinion with limited knowledge, but hey.

    April 12, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. Rosslaw

    Do you know how hard it is to supervise the help in installing the "nannycam" to watch the help. And those car elevators don't grow on trees, bubba. Next, feeling sorry for the Queen of England.

    April 12, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  4. Guest

    This isn't about working women vs. stay at home mothers. I think nothing Rosen said was offensive. Ann Romney has never had to worry about putting food on her table nor making a rent or mortgage payment. These are real concerns that shouldn't be swept under the rug just because Ann Romney took offense to the truth.

    April 12, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  5. Kratz

    Well she hasnt worked so that's just what the GOP need! What a choice, Nit Wit, or Osama.

    April 12, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  6. Myviewis

    These days the majority of women don't care about finances and jobs so I don't see why it would matter that Ann Romney stayed home to raise kids and didn't work. Women have become about birth control, abortion, walk-in closets, entertaining at home while men worry about the condition of the heater, foundation of a house, safety, finances, investments, saving money.

    April 12, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  7. IndeePendant

    Repubs are desperate to cash in on this and get some women sympathy. It won't work. What Hilary says is absolutely correct. Ann Romney was very very well to do hardworking mohter raised five children, dodn't miss an appoitnment at beauty parlors while enjoying the money and servants provided by her husband's tax-evaded hundreds of $$MM. She has abolutely no clue about a real working woman, riasing children and juggling with dangerous corporate world, which are manipulated by money bags like Mitt Romney, who buy companies, break them, fire people, eliminate US jobs and outsource manufacturing to China.

    April 12, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  8. Alcoholiday

    How is that comment offensive? Truth hurts I guess.

    April 12, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  9. Working Mom

    I "chose" to raise two boys and have a full time job. Guess that means I have two jobs? There is no way a stay at home mother knows what it is like to work out of the house. And, guess what? Most of us who do it don't have the CHOICE.

    April 12, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  10. truth1063

    Typical Lib behavior. Not really a feminist – will attack and dehumanize a stay at home mother if she thinks it will help her. What a fraud.

    April 12, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  11. rwdragon86

    Typical liberal point of view. Of course if we got to take home more of our paychecks, then maybe a stay-at-home parent wouldn't be such an anomoly. In the 50s and 60s it was more affordable for a parent to be able to stay at home, but of course now both parents have to work just to make ends meet. When is tax freedom day this year? Many of us work almost a 3rd of the year just to pay taxes. How much REAL work did our present POTUS do before becoming POTUS? Community organizer? Hmmm – yeah that's real work.

    April 12, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  12. mario

    Hilary say louder what everybody think lower,,,

    April 12, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  13. abphil

    She nurtured four kids and raised them. Thats more than adequate compared to all the nonsense white collar jobs we do.

    April 12, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  14. xmxm

    I agree with Rosen. She never said there is anything wrong with a stay at home mom. She said the stay at home mom does not understand real issues women are facing. What is wrong with that?

    April 12, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. Cody

    "'I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys,' Romney tweeted. 'Believe me, it was hard work.'"

    Most of us would never know because most of us don't make enough money for one parent to be stay-at-home. While I totally commend dedication to one's children, her comment does not negate the point Ms. Rosen was making: that Ann Romney has no idea what it is like to be a working woman and having to worry about any sort of financial woes.

    April 12, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  16. Doug

    From this to admiring the work of Mao, a man who killed 30 million, Obama picks these people for a reason, he agrees with 'dem.

    April 12, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  17. Ellen Bradley

    Hilary Rosen's comments were an attack on Ann Romney and all women around the country. Not matter what she tries to say today, she offended all women. Stay at home mom's, mom's working outside the home, all women. Shame on her for that personal attack.

    April 12, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  18. Sumguy

    This lady is a Democratic "Strategist"??
    LOL! Well done.
    My guess is she will soon find out what it's like to be a stay at home mom.

    April 12, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  19. JM

    I think the point is that a stay at home mom whose husband has made millions might not be able to relate well to a mom who has to work 2-3 jobs to feed her family. Stay at home moms are wonderful; so are moms who juggle family and work to provide for their families. Politicians simply need to understand what it is that real Americans are dealing with.

    April 12, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  20. GEK

    Rosen needs to bite the bullet and apologize for making a thoughtless, ignorant remark. Everybody makes them and admitting her mistake will save her some face.

    April 12, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  21. NameBettye Bedgood

    I don't get why this has been blown so out of context. Ann Romney does not know the pains of being the bread winner and raising a family. It's just a fact she knows nothing about the economic side of a "working" woman. Shouldn't get mad about facts!!!

    April 12, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  22. judy

    big deal she never has held a job. Yup staying home and raising a family is a job in itself. But helps if you have nannys ,maids and such to help out and no worries about bills or if the cadellac will break down. Repos just being repos. Obama 2012

    April 12, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  23. Justin

    Well, has she ever worked a real job a day in her life? I think it's a fair assessment.

    April 12, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  24. Faruk

    I have no respect for 'bloggers' who spend their day simply criticizing others.

    She needs to get a real job.

    April 12, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  25. spenteco

    Ms. rosen was obviously referring to a public job that pays the bills. Women all over the country are heavily involved in child rearing, many doing it solo, and holding down a job as well. What exactly is Ms. Romney's resume? Is procreating her role in life as defined by Mittens? Is she totally submissive? Does she have multiple nannies, maids, butlers, valets, gardeners, and surrogates for every conceivable chore? Hell yes, she does. Her biggest burden is (after having a servant pack her bags)moving from mansion to mansion. Mansions bought with money Mittens has ripped off as a corporate raider. The lil GOPers can attempt to make her a martyr, but who in their right mind would buy it? Yes, she has 5 kittens for whom to care and nurture. but what character have any of them shown? We have been at war for 10 frigging years and they are still hiding out in mommies' arms. Now that could be considered a job and a half. Trying to decide which Caddy to drive would be tough too. Poor Ann, her plot is heavy laden. Does she ever give a thought to breast cancer and ms. sufferers without health insurance? That dog just ain't gonna hunt.

    April 12, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
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