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.”
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.”