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. mark trought

    the fact is there are enough trolls and cave ppl in the Democratic party who never worked a day in their lives who took offence here that is why we are hearing about BIPARTISAN criticism. I say go to hell all you wavering democraps who are really GOP agents

    April 12, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  2. what did she say

    Wow, look at that... the presidents aids and advisors don't waste a minute in saying this comment was overboard! They make excuses... they didn't try spinning it... they didn't wait to see if it got negative response nationwide... No, they recognized it as being over the line and said something. Do you think Romney and his group would ever be able to to that? I do have a question concerning Ann Romney... did she use a nanny or housekeeper?

    April 12, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  3. gpop

    I don't have a formal role in the president's re-election either, but I can say that Ann Romney is not home now and have chosen to enter the political spotlight with her husband...therefore she is fair game. She will have to learn how to endure the lumps that Michelle Obama had to and still does endure because she is in the public's eye as well. Mitt cannot connect with women and is trying to use his wife as a surrogate to somehow repair the breech between him and everyday women. Ann Romney publicly said a couple weeks ago that when her and Mitt were in college, she remember a time when they didn't have any money and they thought they would have to liquidate some of their stocks to get money. Not many American women can say that when they are in college. Ann Romney, like her husband, are totally out of touch with everyday middle class women.

    April 12, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  4. Jimmy

    Not a fair comment. If someone wants to work and have a career, or has to work, fine, that's their life. If someone else has the resources and doesn't want to work–that's their choice.

    April 12, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  5. Mike Danahy

    Here we go with the back and forth between liberal and conservative pundits. The issue is women's productive rights.
    The republicans have waged a war on this part of women's rights. Period. Don't try to change the subject, just look at the facts. Since the election in 2010 there has been a massive number of bills and discussions that have focused of contraception, abortion rights and the rights of women to make their own decisions regarding these decisions. Romney has sided with the notion that somehow this is 1956 and not 2012.

    April 12, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  6. MaryM

    Did Ann Romney ever, EVER have to worry about her sons when she HAD to go to work to pay the bills, feed her family, pay for health care insurance, even cook dinner when she got home after a bad day at work. NO there were nannys, maids, butlers AND drivers to take care of her sons when she was tired.

    April 12, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. Loonysuse

    Ann Romney makes her husband more likeable. Call her a Personal Campaign Strategist and give her a paycheck. There, she has a job.

    April 12, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  8. Patricia Hopkins Lattin

    I'm sorry Rosen didn't say "Ann Romney has never worked a day outside her home." That would have been more fair and would made her intended points much better–that Ann Romney has led a life of such privilege that she would have trouble understanding the struggles most women have in the work force and that Mitt Romney should not quote her in talking about issues facing women who live in the real world, the world of the 99%.

    April 12, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  9. jnpa

    I completely agree with Hilary Rosen. The republicans have taken what she said and turned it into an assault on stay at home women raising their families. That is NOT what Rosen said or what she meant. Ann Romney is not in a position to advise her husband on the economic strifes facing women in the workplace because she has never worked outside the home. She may have raised 5 kids, but that does not make her an authority on anything other than raising 5 kids, especially when her husband was making millions and the Governor of Massachusetts. However, I do agree that families of nominees should be off limits. That includes Michelle Obama!

    April 12, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  10. edpeters101

    OK, maybe should have expected a firestorm for saying it. But, it was making a point about how Mitt saying his wife had all this input from working women, when in fact she had never been in the workforce to talk to them and understand what their concerns really are. I have no problem with Mitts wife being a stay at home mom (she should probably be at home now?), I do have a problem with Mitt implying she is something different! For all I know she may be a caterpillar..

    April 12, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  11. On StreetWise

    The real different between working women, or poor working women raising children and a "trophy wife" raising a few kids with plenty of money available, comes down to be able to PROVIDE for their family or not.

    April 12, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  12. Shirley

    A stay at home Mom works 24 hrs a day! If you don't have children then you have NO idea, it is a ton of work.

    April 12, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  13. lyn

    Mrs. Romney had choices when women in the lower income brackets have none. A job and family is all too common these days. The romney's have no clue what it means to dig around the house for a couple dimes to pay for your kids school lunch.

    April 12, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  14. Robert

    The smart people in life are those who have figured out how to live comfortably and not work. They should be commended, not criticized. Because we would all do EXACTLY the same thing if we could figure out how.

    April 12, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  15. Jill-IN

    No one said being a full time mom isn't a job. But being a working mom and raising children on a tight budget, getting them to school and yourself to work, getting them to doctor and dentist appointments, soccer games and other important events for them is one of the most challenging jobs for most American women. It IS the American experience of almost all U.S. women. I have never felt ill will toward a mom who could choose to stay home and even many times wished there were some way... but after working full time 42 years and successfully raising my children we are all Okay. The truth is families can't be defined by one method of operation but there are many and we make it work. Just like I can't relate to the lifestyle of Anne Romney, I'm sure she would never be able to relate to mine.

    April 12, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  16. Rick Dalberg

    I love how the media, CNN included continue to let Liberals put their foot in there mouths yet call out any Conservative that does the same. For anybody in the mainstream media to continue to claim they are impartial when reporting on politics is an outright lie.

    April 12, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  17. MBane

    Being a mon is a full time job? Really? That's funny because most women work full time and raise kids as well so this Rich woman along with her Rich republican friends have no clue what most women go through everyday to raise their kids and put food on the table. These people are completly out of touch with reallity – elitists 1%. This is an insult to working moms all over the country.

    April 12, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  18. Cody

    Being a stay at home mom is not an easy job, but having a husband worth over $250 million that can hire nannies sure makes it easier.

    She is out of touch with the stay at home moms whos husbands make less than 50k a year, AKA she and her husband are out of touch with the middle class.

    April 12, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  19. hal

    If Ann Romney has actually never worked a day in her life, she is probably completely out of touch with most stay at home moms. All the stay at home moms that I've ever known actually held a job at some point in their lives, whether it was during high school, early in their marriage, or whatever. I believe Ms Rosen that a comment about a particularly privileged woman having never worked a day in their life is not the same as a comment about stay at home moms.

    April 12, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  20. Rsprings

    Typical of Democrats to attack like this. I'll bet you could find some dirt in Rosen's past.

    April 12, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  21. seter

    I will not be distracted or fooled by this. If anyone jumps ship to the Romney side over this you are weak minded to begin with. Obama is the true supporter of women. If you don't see that then you need help. If women are fooled by this...it's their election to lose and lose big time they will.

    April 12, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  22. Nic_Driver

    The rest of us have to raise children AND have a job. The 1%er's will never get that will they...yet they want to "represent" us? How can they possibly do that when they live in a different world and lack the basic understanding of what it’s like to struggle?

    Romney and any other GOP candidate should not get more than 1% of the vote in the general election.

    April 12, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  23. Alfredo Fla.

    She hasn't.... what's the big deal?

    April 12, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  24. John/kc

    If the woman has never worked a day in her life, what is wrong with making the facts known? Do republicans want to hind facts of their candidate from the general public? So she is a rich aires, can't most of the moms in this country identify with that fact?

    April 12, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  25. jag

    Ridiculous! Everyone knows what she meant, in the public or private "for pay" sector. Of course, stay at home moms work hard, but what does this have to do with equal pay for women, on the job discrimination etc. Now, it's time for the circus to really begin. Bring in the elephants.

    April 12, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
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