Democratic pundit Hilary Rosen apologized for claiming that Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life, following a media storm and television feud that erupted last night.
Rosen, a strategist who has met with President Barack Obama but is not an official adviser, made the statement after refusing to backtrack on her comments, ending an explosion of criticism and calls for her to apologize.
I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended, Rosen said in a statement to CNN, where she is a contributor. Let's declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance. (Full statement is at the bottom of the article.)
Things took off last night when Rosen on CNN to talk about the so-called war on women she claims the Republicans are waging. She told Anderson Cooper that the wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney can't relate to most women because her family is wealthy.
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,' Rosen said. Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of women in this country are facing in terms of, how do we feed our kids? How do we send them to school? And why we worry about their future?
Uproar over Twitter escalated when Ann Romney launched a Twitter account and responded. Her son, Josh, tweeted a comment, too:
I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.
— Ann Romney (@AnnDRomney) April 12, 2012
Mrs. Romney later went on Fox News Thursday morning to defend her husband's record with women and called for society to respect mothers who choose to stay at home.
My career choice was to be a mother and I think all of us need to know that we need to respect choices that women make, she said.
She added that her husband told her, Ann, your job is more important than mine. I know that my job is temporary. I know that these things come and go, but your job is a forever job that's going to bring forever happiness.
The so-called war on women has become a highly partisan talking point for both parties, started by the Democratic establishment to attacking Republican stances on contraception and abortion (you can read more about that here). But the Romney/Rosen debate was not necessarily party vs. party. A number of big Democratic names ran to defend Ann Romney and applauded stay-at-home moms, including Michelle Obama and Republican National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz.
Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected. -mo — Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) April 12, 2012
Disappointed in @hilaryr 's comments. As a mother of 3 there's no doubt that raising children is work.
— D Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) April 12, 2012
Although Jay Carney dismissed questions about Rosen in a press conference (I personally know three women named Hilary Rosen) President Obama told a Cedar Rapids news station I don't have a lot of patience for commentary about the spouses of political candidates. Campaign adviser David Axelrod also said he was disappointed in Rosen, calling her comments inappropriate and offensive and Joe Biden echoed those sentiments on MSNBC later that night by calling it an outrageous assertion.
Throughout the day, however, Rosen insisted she was misinterpreted and stood by her comments. She said on CNN:
This is not about Ann Romney. This is about the waitress at 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.
Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, who describes herself as Rosen's friend, also defended the strategist. She said she didn't think Rosen, who has children of her own but is not a stay-at-home mom, meant to take away from the hard chore of raising children or staying at home and raising them and not working outside the family. In a quickly-written blog post, Van Susterene said, I read it to mean that raising children without financial pressure is easier than having financial pressure.
By the afternoon, Ann Romney had been a trending keyword on Twitter worldwide.
Let's put the faux war against stay at home moms to rest once and for all. As a mom I know that raising children is the hardest job there is. As a pundit, I know my words on CNN last night were poorly chosen. In response to Mitt Romney on the campaign trail referring to his wife as a better person to answer questions about women than he is, I was discussing his lack of a record on the plight of women's financial struggles. Here is my more fulsome view of the issues. As a partner in a firm full of women who work outside of the home as well as stay at home mothers, all with plenty of children, gender equality is not a talking point for me. It is an issue I live every day. I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended. Let's declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance.