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. zq

    I'm honestly asking here, how many maids, nannies, and other servants do the Romney's have? I mean we're talking about the family that is building a car elevator in one of their homes. A CAR ELEVATOR.

    April 12, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  2. Chris Lee

    It's easy to "choose" to raise 5 boys instead of working when your husband brings home millions. It's a little different when you have to work two jobs just to put food on the table.

    April 12, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  3. Anonymous

    Yes, being a full-time mom definitely is hard work. The point should have been that someone whose husband is a millionaire perhaps does not have the same understanding of economic issues as does someone who has to choose between feeding the kids, buying them clothes, or taking them to the doctor because there just isn't enough money to do it all.

    April 12, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  4. SMS

    After reading all this BS, I asked my self, doesn't matter, Democrats or Republican, our life will not change much, rich will be richer and we are the day in day out people will be played again and again by this rich politician's..who should I vote for this time?????

    April 12, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  5. Jan

    They are so out of normal!.. Romney was mentioning working wormen statistics not stay home mom and that is what HIllary comment that she has never worked as workforce. (outside the home)..

    and may be that is why women have not gained job since 2009 as more women want to stay home and do parenting and want their men to be at work.. dah make sense..! Mr Romney is so out of touch and cannot pick his battles

    April 12, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  6. Laurel

    Repub's hate the truth. She is rich beyond anyone in this country's dreams and has the luxury of staying home to raise her kids. The rest of us have to work to feed and cloth them and then raise them when we get home.

    April 12, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  7. Ewow2008

    Yes raising children is very hard now days.But it's a choice to have five children.I work because i have to there is no choice in this matter.So Ms.Romney has never earned an honest dollar from sweating in her life who cares.Are you really surprised ?

    April 12, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  8. justin 12345631

    Rosen, is way off base. she's an idiot with no right to say who's worked a day of their life or not. being a mom is a full time job. my mother technically never worked a paying job since she's been married, but she is very in touch with the economy and happens to be one of the most hard working women i know. Rosen, way to be lame.

    April 12, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  9. Jay

    So a woman makes her family and children her #1 priority and the liberals attack her? What else do you expect from a group with no values or morals.

    April 12, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  10. Daniel Golightly

    Being a mom is a full time job especially if you're busy overpopulating the world with that many kids.

    April 12, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. xman

    Yes that was her choice to stay at home and raise 5 boys but don`t act like you speak for the women who work and raise kids on top of keeping a job. BIG DIFFERENCE ANN.

    April 12, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  12. Nick D

    Just guessing, but does anyone think Mrs. Romney's privileged life is anywhere near equal to a working single Mother with a low wage job? Does anyone else think that maybe, just maybe, Mrs. Romney uses a cleaning service for her home, a yard service for lawn mowing, a landscaper for her flowers and a host of other hired help to get through her "working" day. There are a lot of Moms who do it all, I am betting that Mrs. Romney pays for a lot of services. Does she wash and wax both of her Cadillacs? Families off limits? All the under the breath racist comments and internet B.S. about Mrs. Obama? You must be kidding.

    April 12, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  13. *Dana*

    Being a mother is a full time job but as a former stay at home mom I say you cannot compare professional job and being home. Why? Because it is a different kettle of fish. But that's not what really hit the nerve was Romney stating that he did not believe women care about economical issues. WHY would he not think so???? Coz his wife never expressed the will to work and a have a career? Well, shame on her! What a simpleton! Most women are not such simpletons, Mr Romney.

    April 12, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  14. Conrad Shull

    Doesn't Mrs. Romney know mothers don't raise children, government funded day-care centers raise children. What a bubble she lives in.

    April 12, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  15. SMS

    It should read "these" instead this...sorry

    April 12, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  16. railroadrex

    did mrs Romney have a nanny and maids help raise the boys and do the cooking and cleaning? if so i don't think that equals that of the waitress with 2 kids.

    April 12, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  17. Irene Clark

    This woman, Hliliary Rosen is inappropriate and offensive to women as a whole. She is not well spoken and I doubt seriously if she has the support of the women in the Democratic Party. Schmuck is schmuck and she is a champion of schmuck for a certainty. Ann Romney is a woman of Grace, Dignity and Respect. Those are character traits that Hillary Rosen has NONE.

    April 12, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  18. Jedi

    Rosen is a nobody and knows nothing of actual "hard work" herself. She has no touch with reality in this country and pays no credence to the fact that stay-at-home moms work considerably as hard, if not harder than anyone else. Rosen got her 5 minutes of fame and all it surmounted to was false and negative comments towards the working women in this country. Good job.

    April 12, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  19. Realityblowz

    Nice. Really nice. There goes a few million votes for the Dems to the Repubs. Maybe she is just thinking in the Liberal mindset, that the State takes care of children, instead of the parents?

    April 12, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  20. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    The new media shouyld leave Mrs Ann Romney alone. The stay-at-home mom are working mom and wife it's a job, rich or poor. Go Obama

    April 12, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  21. nolimits3333

    Mitt has never worked a day in his life either.

    April 12, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  22. Kevin442

    Okay but here is the point, there are many many other women out there who do not have the financial support to stay at home, raise 5 kids, and pay for cancer treatment. I am sure she works hard, but she cannot possibly know what it is like to live without that support.

    April 12, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  23. setnommarih

    Ms. Rosen-Don't have kids if everyone else has to pay for them. That goes for the waitress in AZ on the millionaire on Park Ave. And that goes for all the credit baby makers get too.

    April 12, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  24. fryuujin

    I'm okay with the comment of not working a day in her life because she married into MILLIONS and house wife of a millionare is NOT work., as most everyone understands it to be. S#*t, once your past diapers, she likely was worried about the country club pool schedule for the kids more than anything in her life

    April 12, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  25. deb

    I think everyone got carried away with the point that Rosen was trying to make–Ann Romney has never had to truly worry about her kids when it came to eating, health care insurance, day care, etc. She made a choice to stay at home, but she was lucky, too, to have that choice. Many families do not have that choice.

    However, if a party is going to run on family issues, then family is NOT off limits. Romney is the one that said that his wife is telling him about women and the economy. His own statement is out of touch, really.

    April 12, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
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