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Hilary Rosen‘s remarks that Ann Romney “had never worked a day in her life,” and instead elected to stay at home and raise her five children, has prompted public and political backlash, apologies and a cross-current of interest group furor.
Rosen, a Democratic strategist and contributor to CNN who made the remarks on Anderson Cooper‘s AC 360 show on Wednesday evening, had been trying to make the point that former Mass. Governor Mitt Romney had been using his wife as a false touchstone for the concerns of working women. Instead, the remarks outraged both sides of the aisle.
Ann Romney appeared on Fox News to respond to the comments Thursday morning, saying, “My 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.” She added, “We have to respect women in all those choices that they make.”
Democrats quickly moved to distance themselves from Rosen — pointing out that she is not a paid employee of the Democratic National Committee — and had several high profile figures in the party shoot down the remarks.
President Obama, in an interview with a TV station in Cedar Rapids, said, “My general view is those of us who are in the public life, we’re fair game. Our families are civilians. I haven’t met Mrs. Romney, but she seems like a very nice woman who is supportive of her family and supportive of her husband. I don’t know if she necessarily volunteered for this job so, you know, we don’t need to be directing comments at them. I think me and Governor Romney are going to have more than enough to argue about during the course of this campaign.”
Earlier in the day, Michelle Obama tweeted, “Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected.” The head of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz spoke out via Twitter as well, saying, “Disappointed in @hilaryr ‘s comments. As a mother of 3 there’s no doubt that raising children is work.”
Elsewhere on Twitter, Obama adviser David Axelrod wrote, “Disappointed in Hilary Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney. They were inappropriate and offensive,” while Jim Messina, the head of the President’s re-election campaign tweeted, “I could not disagree with Hilary Rosen any more strongly. Her comments were wrong and family should be off limits. She should apologize.”
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “We can all agree, Democrats and Republicans, that raising children is an extremely difficult job.”
As for Rosen, she at first stood firm by her comments, writing what became a high profile CNN editorial.
“Spare me the faux anger from the right who view the issue of women’s rights and advancement as a way to score political points,” Rosen wrote. “When it comes to supporting policies that would actually help women, their silence has been deafening. I don’t need lectures from the Republican National Committee on supporting women and fighting to increase opportunities for women; I’ve been doing it my whole career.”
Now, Rosen has apologized, while still maintaining her stance about the positioning on the political “War on Women.”
“Let’s put the faux ‘war against stay at home moms’ to rest once and for all,” she wrote in a statement. “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… I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended.”
The conservative Catholic League waded into the debate with a bout of homophobia, tweeting, “Lesbian Dem Hilary Rosen tells Ann Romney she never worked a day in her life. Unlike Rosen, who had to adopt kids, Ann raised 5 of her own.”
In response, the RNC condemned the League, with Communications Director Sean Spicer tweeting, “The @CatholicLeague should be encouraging adoption, not demeaning the parents who are blessed to raise these children.”
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