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. coder

    Ann – try raising those five boys on a waffle house pay check......... Then you can compare

    Until then – acknowledge your life is without economic hardship and realize you do not 'know' what it is like in this country with out your precious money

    April 12, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  2. Thomas Covenant

    She is saying that wealth means you don't work. And I guess sitting on your a** all day means you do.

    April 12, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  3. ATLmatt

    I agree with Rosen. While being a mom and running a household successfully is not easy, working for a tough boss with various projects, time lines and dead lines and supporting a family is tougher. I think Rosen has a point but it could have been worded better perhaps.

    April 12, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Rosen is right on. My mother raised four kids AND worked. Ann Romney is hardly representative of American women, and her husband is a child of privilege who has never had to worry about the rent.

    April 12, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  5. K3Citizen

    the Romney's are privileged people. They inherited their wealth from shady political deals that Romney's dad made. They are the last people that can realte to the average guy.

    April 12, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  6. hannah

    The sad thing in this country is that most mom don't have the luxury to be a stay at home mom anymore. And as far as Mrs. Romney is concerned, she has no idea what it is like to hold down one ot two jobs and raise one or more children. I doubt whether she has ever cleaned a toilet. If people could have a camera into how the very wealthy live they would be astounded. Everything is done for them. They don't lift a finger to do any real work and they don't know how. Remember Bush Sr. not knowing how to shop in the grocery. This is what we are dealing with. And we don't want people like this as our leaders. They don't understand the working person and they don't care.

    April 12, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  7. noteabags

    Being a mom may be a full-time job but it is not one that requires a paid salary or requires the employee to pay taxes. The point that she can't relate to working women remains valid. She doesn't know what it is like to struggle to pay bills and raise a family.

    April 12, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  8. wharfrat76

    How is raising kids with no job harder work than raising kids with a job...that don't make no sense.

    April 12, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  9. Robert

    Besides, anyone who has raised 5 kids and helped to raise 16 grand-kids has probably put in 16 hour days for the past 30 years. Far harder work then I ever put in on the job.

    April 12, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  10. Zeibodique

    Where is the outrage to Alan West for saying "Up to 80 House Democrats are Communists"? Oh yea, stand me corrected, he's a Republican and as of lately everything a Republican says is correct. As for Mrs. Romney, You can read the statement and take it how you want. By work, it's a paying job where you actually are an employee to a place of business. Both Women and Men alike take care of their children. Do you see any outrage from stay at home dads?

    April 12, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  11. Myviewis

    Sorry Mrs. Rosen but you also have no idea what today's women are truly concerned about because you also do not hang out with everyday women. Women today are not caring about economic issues in their lives and how to feed their children or pay for daycare, the priority right now is if Obama is going to bring women free birth control pills, contraception and abortion. Obama will get the women's vote because he represents birth control and abortion not economics, women leave economics to the husband or boyfriend.

    April 12, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  12. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    Imagine, lots don't have to, but imagine having to work and be the mom at home like so many real people do. Yes it is work to stay home, not have to punch a time clock, but be on duty 24/7, but punching that time clock and finding someone to keep your child, and pay a large part of your pay check to do so is where I believe Rosen is coming from. At leat at home one can take some free time, if they know how to plan their time, but that doesn't always work for the employed. One wonders how many women today are stay at home mammas, and how many are forced to work...and how many work to get away from the children?

    April 12, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  13. paul

    Classic Karl Rove strategy used so often by Republicans. Don't attack an opponents weakness, attack his strength. The Republicans successfully reduce John Kerry (who served his country) to a "traitor". Obama is strong on women's issues and has a history of helping women so guess what–Karl Rove and Romeny will attack Obama on womens rights. But, actions always speak louder than words–just look at what Republican have done across the country to hinder women to find the answer. You don't have to guess the answer is right in front of you.

    April 12, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  14. themoi

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

    Yeah, and how many women would LOVE to stay home and raise their kids but because of the economy, or their husband is laid off or their a single mother with a deadbeat who is not paying child support they have to work 1-2 or even 3 jobs to support their kids and are hardly ever home and the kids are raising themselves?

    Shuddup Ann. Nobody in the 99% can even FEEL your so called "pain".

    April 12, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  15. wyciwyg

    this type of cheap shot, off-the-subject, attack is becoming all too common out of the Dem camp. I do wish any Dem leadership who retains integrity, ehtics and common decency would shut down any and all such people. How? publicly repudiate the people who indulge in this type of behavior, remove them from their position within the Dem party machine, ban them from ever participating in a sanctioned Dem event. maybe a few examples would serve as a deterrent to future attacks.
    a reminder to Ms Rosen: stay at home moms regardless of economic background, are employed! raising the next generation

    April 12, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  16. John

    I'm really having a hard time finding any problems with what Hilary Rosen had to say. I guess the truth needed to be sugar coated?

    April 12, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  17. Aviate

    If there were ever a case of the media creating the news rather than covering it, then this it. If the Obama campaign is somehow responsible for everything some unknown "Democratic analyst" says on TV, then the same holds true for Mitt Romney's campaign and every single thing said by every single talking head on FOX News. Do you really want to play that game, Mitt? Oh wait, of course you do–last thing you want is for anyone to look at the fact that you have no policies, no vision, no nothing to offer the American people....

    April 12, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  18. pooflingingmonkey

    I've really come to detest our political system, particularly as it pertains to general elections. A person on one side does one questionable thing, and the other side jumps all over it, at the expense of real current events. Both sides do it, and frankly I'm sick of it.

    Focus on the issues that are important, economy, defense, heatlhcare, etc, and stop wasting time on these stupid, hot-button topics.

    April 12, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  19. Oldbear 60

    Stay at home mothers who truly work at raising their childern and keeping a home work very hard and are undervalued by most men.That said it's the Candidate who brought his wife in as an "woman advisor on womens issues" so she is therefore a legit issue. The childern are not. You can bet the Republicans are going to hammer the First Lady every chance they get. You want to play with fire, expect to get burned. BOTH WAYS

    April 12, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  20. Albert Zaza

    Romney strategy for women: Stay home and raise more kids – "you see what my wife has done?"

    April 12, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  21. WallStud

    I'm voting for Mitt Romney, but I understand her point: Romney should avoid using the phrase, "I've asked my wife and ..." Does anyone know if he's really making this statement all the time? I don't know (and I'll bet Ms. Rosen doesn't know; I'll bet he said it once or twice). If he is, then he should stop; although we all do it, no one wants to hear about how we consulted with our spouses on matters related to our professions.

    The "never worked a day in her life" comment is downright silly. Ms. Rosen ought to spend a few days at home raising just a few children - let alone five - and I'll bet she would change her mind. It's not a full-time job, it's a triple-time job. But then again, she is a "political strategist"; her job is primarily to shoot her mouth off with the aim of swaying millions. The truth is secondary to her primary mission.

    April 12, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  22. bobby

    Just let the liberals talk- They soon themselves.

    April 12, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  23. elmer simendinger

    Folks accept Hilary Rosen for what she does best, and that is character assasignation on anyone who is a Republican. She has been a mothpiece for the Obama administration and radical left since day one. Just ignore her

    April 12, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  24. Mrs. G

    I think what Hilary meant to say was that Ann Romney has never STRUGGLED a day in her life, financially. Hilary could have chosen her words more carefully, but her point is still valid. Ann Romney cannot relate to the single/married mother who doesn't have the same options that she had. That is a fact. Many women in this country would LOVE to stay home & raise their kids or at least have more of a balance (myself included), but because of their financial situation, must work instead.

    April 12, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  25. Anon.grady

    Rosen is 100% correct, I was raised by a single mother who fought tooth and nail to feed, shelter and clothe me while renting a small house in a rich kid district so my education would be second to none. And Mrs. Romney knows anything about that?

    One day I asked my mom why she didn't talk and socialize with the other mom's, "Because I have no interest in talking about my nails."

    She was talking about the rich house wives who do nothing all day while their kids are at school and maids clean the house. And I am sure Mrs. Romney volunteered somewhere sometimes, well women like my mother didn't have the time.

    So again, Rosen 100% correct, what is the problem here?

    April 12, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
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