Posts Tagged Hilary Rosen

Ann Romney gets tough on critics – The Hill – covering Congress, Politics, Political Campaigns and Capitol Hill |


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Ann Romney gets tough on critics

By Alicia M. Cohn – 10/02/12


With the election just five weeks away, Mitt Romney’s campaign is deploying the person who has become one of the strongest weapons in its arsenal: Ann Romney.

“She’s his sword and shield,” said Republican strategist Ron Bonjean, describing the prospective first lady.

The campaign has increased Ann’s presence on the campaign trail over the past few weeks, scheduling her to headline rallies across the country — including one Monday night in the same Las Vegas suburb where President Obama is practicing for Wednesday’s first presidential debate — and positioning her in the limelight with interviews on “The Tonight Show” and “Access Hollywood.”

She is also taking on the GOP presidential nominee’s critics with an aggressiveness that historians say is unusual in an aspiring first lady.

“Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring,” she said in an Iowa radio interview in September, confronting the conservative critics her husband had largely downplayed.

“Was I a little strong?” Ann laughingly asked Jay Leno of the interview the following week.

The aggressive edge seems blunted on Ann Romney, a woman the campaign has defined as a mother of five and grandmother to 18.

“The way it seems to translate to most Americans is, it’s more a wife defending her husband, rather than one politician defending another,” said Myra Gutin, a professor of communication at Rider University and a first-lady scholar.

Gutin said it’s rare to see a first lady or a prospective one be “combative,” but pointed out that Ann Romney’s aggressiveness has not translated to taking “potshots” at Obama, which might not be as well-received.

“She speaks to her husband’s strengths, and to a great extent that’s what most first ladies have done,” Gutin said.

Ann Romney’s ability to put her foot down — and still be liked — is an asset to a campaign that has struggled with perception, said Gutin.

Ann Romney’s somewhat abrasive language — Romney frequently uses the phrase “you people” when chiding critics or media — along with apparent relish of criticism — as in calling the comment in April by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen that Ann “never worked a day in her life” an “early birthday present” — have not harmed her popularity with her husband’s base. In fact, both seem to further an image of Ann as the “stern mom” to Romney’s somewhat aloof dad.

Her propensity for biting rhetoric even earned satire from “Saturday Night Live,” which characterized her as strict and forthright but ultimately relatable in her parody debut on the sketch comedy show Sept. 22.

“When you go after my man, I get angry, Seth,” “SNL’s” Kate McKinnon, as Ann, said to “Weekend Update” host Seth Meyers. “Fellas, if you don’t nut up, ya got to shut up, OK?”

It didn’t work that way for Michelle Obama last presidential election cycle, when she struggled to overcome the “angry black woman” stereotype after making some aggressive comments on the campaign trail for her husband.

In 2008, Obama was described as cynical in her stump speeches. She described the country as “just downright mean” and “guided by fear,” and made the infamous comment that “for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.”

Michelle Obama was very “vehement” in discussing the divided country, an attitude that got her “criticized for being negative, for being critical of the country,” said Liza Mundy, author of 2008’s Michelle: A Biography.

“She also got criticized for being too critical of her husband, which some people thought was funny,” Mundy noted. “She got this kind of ‘Take my husband — please’ schtick that she would do, talking about how he wouldn’t put his clothes in the laundry hamper, how he wouldn’t close the bread when he would make a sandwich.”

In contrast, Ann Romney is supportive of her husband’s sense of humor, respect for women — even his hair. She reserves her criticism for her husband’s critics.

For those watching closely, Ann Romney has always shown steel beneath the supportive-wife-and-mother role. She takes credit for urging her husband to run again for president this cycle and has described the rigors of the campaign trail as “blah, blah, blah,” despite admitting that its intensity could trigger a relapse of her multiple sclerosis.

Ann Romney, who was diagnosed with MS in 1998, is “the first [candidate’s wife] to acknowledge living with a chronic disease,” noted Carl Sferrazza Anthony, the historian for the National First Ladies Library.

Ann Romney has spoken about the seriousness of her disease, referring to a “very dark place” the disease has driven her in the past, yet she has also joked that sometimes “really tough interviews” make it flare up. The disease helps explain both her relatively low media profile up until now and her tenacity.

Ann Romney has stumbled in some attempts to counter questions about Latino voters and tax returns, but she has proven adept at sweeping aside difficult questions about the kind of controversies — such as the “47 percent” claim and doubts about his Mormon faith — that tend to cling to the GOP nominee.

Mitt Romney told donors in May that they would see much more of Ann in September and October. At this point in the race, the more of the spotlight she can draw, the better, according to strategists.

“Her job’s to minimize the idea that Mitt Romney is not a normal guy,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said. “As long as it’s not taken as over the top, it’s a good thing.”

 Ann Romney gets tough on critics – The Hill – covering Congress, Politics, Political Campaigns and Capitol Hill |


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Free Wood Post – Ann Romney: It’s Hard Work Micromanaging A Full Staff In Multiple Homes

Ann Romney: It’s Hard Work Micromanaging A Full Staff In Multiple Homes

April 12, 2012

By Sarah Wood

"Ann Romney" "Stay at home mom" "managing house staff"

Recently, Ann Romney has been on the defense about remarks made by CNN Political Contributor, Hilary Rosen. Rosen said that Ann “has actually never worked a day in her life … she’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing.” Ann Romney responded on Fox News saying, “my career choice was to be a mother, and I think all of us need to know that we need to respect the choices women make.”

Later in the day on CNN Ann Romney said that “it’s hard work micromanaging a full staff in multiple homes. There were several nannies to oversee, as well as a number of maids, butlers, chauffeurs, gardeners, tutors and private coaches. My struggles were not easy, but neither are the struggles of other stay-at-home moms all across the nation. We need to stick together and not have other women put us down for the choices we make. Not all of us are cut out to work and tend to our children, and some of us prioritize family over a fantasy that we could one day be as successful as a man. I stand by my decision to be a stay-at-home mom.”

Catching up with Mitt Romney on the campaign trail he said, “My wife is someone other ladies can look up to. She is strong, and a good mom. My boys are lucky to have her, and I’m lucky to have her. She was a great supervisor to our house staff, and always made sure things were running smoothly. Ms. Rosen has no right to criticize my wife’s decisions.”

Hilary Rosen was reached at her home and asked what she thought of the Romneys’ responses to her original comments. She said, “that family is so out of touch, you couldn’t even begin to get near them with a 100-foot-pole.”

Free Wood Post will keep you updated as this debate advances.

 Free Wood Post.

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Free Wood Post – Mitt Romney Says He Told Ann To Stay At Home With The Children, “Because That’s What Women Are Supposed To Do”

Mitt Romney Says He Told Ann To Stay At Home With The Children, “Because That’s What Women Are Supposed To Do”

April 20, 2012

By Corey Banks

Mitt Romney is receiving criticism from women’s rights groups across the country, after comments he made today about his wife Ann Romney, and her career as a “stay at home mom.”

While speaking at a rally today, Mitt was asked if he felt that the left-wing has a problem with stay at home moms. Going off-topic, he gave the following response:

“Of course the left-wing has a problem with stay at home moms. They’re trying to break up the basic family dynamic, where a man goes out to work and the wife takes care of the kids. Women have a very important role to play, and that role is raising our children. When Ann and I met in college I made it clear to her what I expected from her. I told her from day one that if she wanted to be with me, and live off my family’s fortune, that she would have to be willing to forfeit a career in order to stay home and take care of our children, because that’s what women are supposed to do. Cooking, cleaning, raising the kids; those have always, traditionally, been a woman’s job, and the left-wing is trying to change how we do things. I’m running for President to restore women to their traditional roles”


This is the second gaffe for the Romney’s recently. Ann Romney is still receiving criticism for saying that women shouldn’t want to be paid the same amount as men.

A recent poll of women showed that President Obama’s lead amongst female voters has increased to 40%, with 29% of women saying they could support Romney and 71% saying they support the President.

 Free Wood Post.

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Cagle Post » Reaction to Nugent Showcases Manufactured Outrage On The Right


Reaction to Nugent Showcases Manufactured Outrage On The Right


A few days after proudly pandering to washed up, mediocre rocker Ted Nugent and securing the crack-pot vote of gun club conspiracy theorists, Mitt Romney was given the very unenviable task of actually confronting his shameless salt-of-the-earth pandering and hypocritical acts by condemning the deranged and violent rhetoric of Ted Nugent. The only problem, of course, was that wasn’t really a condemnation at all.


Milt Priggee / Cagle Cartoons (click to view more cartoons by Priggee)


After the fusillade of feigned outrage tossed at Democrats by conservatives over the Hillary Rosen remark, Democrats rightfully called Romney out over enthusiastically aligning himself with the likes of Ted Nugent despite the right-wing nut job’s history of saying incredibly disturbing and violent (mostly drunken and incoherent) things aimed at President Obama. Either clearly missing the point of Rosen’s remarks or, more plausibly, deciding that his detractors are raving lunatics (see Ted Nugent) and will never give him any breathing room, President Obama rejected the remarks made by Rosen towards Anne Romney. If only the same could be said about Mitt Romney.

The Romney campaign played along, but with minimal effort — it blamed both sides for Nugent’s comments, with language nearly identical to its blame-both-sides statement on offensive comments made by Rush Limbaugh earlier this year.

Talking Points Memo rightfully pointed out a glaring similarity between the Romney camp’s reaction to the Nugent incident and Rush Limbaugh’s attack on Sandra Fluke earlier this year. It seems Mitt Romney only condemns a popular right-wing target out of political expediency. Heck, the man is the personification of political expediency.

After the Fluke controversy, Romney offered these rather weak and tepid remarks: “I’ll just say this, which is, it’s not the language I would have used.”

The Ted Nugent incident proves no different.

“Divisive language is offensive no matter what side of the political aisle it comes from,” Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul told TPM. “Mitt Romney believes everyone needs to be civil.”

And it seems Democrats wholeheartedly agree that the Romney response was as feigned as the tears during the funeral of Kim Jong Il “That has got to be the weakest, most meaningless reaction imaginable,” DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse told TPM. “Nugent’s comments were violent and were shocking and beyond the pale — and if Mitt Romney can’t condemn him in no uncertain terms he is not prepared to lead.”

Apparently it was serious enough for the Secret Service to respond.

It’s clear that the man who brought us such profound poetry as “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” is but a disorganized, redneck hayseed who would sooner shoot himself in the foot than come close to harming the President. However, that Ted Nugent spoke at such a powerful and far-reaching special interest group as the NRA, a group that boasted an annual budget of $222,841,128 in 2004 and millions of members, is quite serious. Furthermore, that a candidate vying for the oval office would not only align himself with Nugent, but essentially align himself with potentially crazier members of the NRA is even more serious. What’s more, that Romney would cynically and relentlessly exploit the context of Rosen’s remarks by attaching them to the entire Democratic party shows this man to be without a modicum of principles and, not surprisingly, a willingness to say anything to get elected.

Here’s a video of Sean Hannity and Bob Beckel discussing some heated comments made by Nugent. Hannity’s lack of outrage is very telling:

 Cagle Post » Reaction to Nugent Showcases Manufactured Outrage On The Right.

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McCain: I agree with Ann Romney – CNN Political Ticker – Blogs

McCain: I agree with Ann Romney


McCain: I agree with Ann Romney


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Posted by

CNN Producer Gabriella Schwarz

April 15th, 2012


(CNN) – Republican Sen. John McCain on Sunday said Mitt Romney will be able to bridge the gender gap in the next election given that women, as the candidate’s wife said, care most about the economy.

“I do believe that Ann Romney was right when she said the women she talks to and the women I talk to, traveling around my state, are interested in jobs and the economy,” McCain, a Romney backer, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “There’s no doubt that a lot of women have been hurt very badly in this recession. And jobs and the economy is their number one priority.”

The former 2008 Republican presidential candidate’s comments came days after Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen ignited a firestorm when she said Ann Romney had “never worked a day in her life.” Rosen later apologized, but that did not stop pundits and politicians from seizing on the remark to make their respective political points largely in an effort to play to the female vote ahead of the 2012 election.

A recent poll from ABC News/Washington Post showed President Barack Obama leading Romney among women, 57% to 38%, despite his single-digit lead over the former Massachusetts governor in a hypothetical general election match-up.

But McCain, Arizona’s senior senator, said Romney’s economic proposals will play to women who are focused on “feeding their families and being able to stay in their homes.”

 McCain: I agree with Ann Romney – CNN Political Ticker – Blogs.

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Hilary Rosen was right. Ann Romney doesn’t speak for women in the workforce. – The Washington Post

Hilary Rosen was right: Ann Romney doesn’t speak for women in the workforce.

By Linda HirshmanPublished: April 13

Beltway pundit Hilary Rosen committed a mortal sin of American politics: She spoke the truth with a microphone on.

“What you have,” she told Anderson Cooper on Wednesday night, “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?” Rosen observed. “His wife has actually never worked a day in her life.”

With that, the storm erupted.

Of course stay-at-home moms “work,” women from Barbara Bush to Michelle Obama quickly asserted. All that housekeeping and child care is a lot of work. President Obama, apparently needing more distance from Rosen’s comments, suggested Thursday that candidates’ spouses should be “off limits” altogether.

And surely, taking care of a family is hard work. In Ann Romney’s case, managing the very elaborate Romney establishment — five children,three or four houses and two Cadillacs — probably takes as much labor as most jobs in the market economy. Within 24 hours, Rosen was apologizing to all those women laboring in their homes for implying that they don’t work.

In the furor, everyone seemed to forget that unpaid mothers and household work are not what the discussion is about. Republicans are not talking about how jobs for stay-at-home moms have decreased under Obama.

They are talking about how paid work for women has suffered. Mitt Romney said this past week that 92 percent of the jobs lost under Obama were lost by women. Erick Erickson, a Republican commentator who joined Rosen on Cooper’s CNN show, argued that the president is responsible for the decline of women’s jobs in the paid workplace.

And work as she may, that’s one place Ann Romney has never been. She has spent her life in the private precincts of the marital workplace, where emotional ties replace the financial norms of the factory or office.

Now, she has emerged to campaign for her husband and to explain to him what women want. “I’ve had the fun of being out with my wife the last several days on the campaign trail,” Mitt Romney told Fox Newsthis month. “And she points out that as she talks to women, they tell her that their number one concern is the economy.”

At a recent campaign event, Romney said he wished his wife were there to help answer a question about female voters. “She says that she’s going across the country and talking with women, and what they’re talking about is the debt that we’re leaving the next generation and the failure of this economy to put people back to work.”

When Ann Romney’s husband, who faces a gender gap in some polls, uses her experience and insight as a megaphone for women’s concern over fewer paid jobs, he mistakenly assumes that all women are fungible. Which was, I take it, Rosen’s original point.

Although Ann Romney may be a fine spokesperson on some issues, the dirty little secret of angling for female votes is that while all women’s work, inside or outside the home, has the same worth, as Michelle Obama and Barbara Bush sweetly expressed, all women do not have the same interests. Women who work in the home do not have the same interest in the recovery of the formal job market as women who have to work for pay. Indeed, wage-earning women probably have more in common with their paycheck-dependent male co-workers on the subject of economic recovery than with household laborers such as Ann Romney.

Unemployment is not the only issue on which women in the formal workplace split from their informally occupied sisters. Equal pay is another. And that is more complicated for Mitt Romney, given his support of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who led the charge to repeal his state’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which protected women against pay discrimination. Recently, a Romney aide was unable to say whether the candidate supported the latest addition to federal equal-pay law, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which guarantees equal pay for equal work.

Women whose work consists of caring for their households and children don’t need to worry about being paid less than their male counterparts. First, they aren’t paid at all, in any formal sense, and second, unless their husbands take a male spouse alongside them — an unlikely social development — they won’t confront sex discrimination at their workplace. Actually, Romney himself, a proud member of the capitalist economy and of a religious minority with a history of discrimination, has more in common with female workers than his wife does in discouraging arbitrary workplace discrimination. Ann Romney huffily reminded her husband’s detractors that some of his best employees have been women. But they were his employees; why is he using his wife to get that message out?

Ann Romney could of course speak for some interests common to all women (and not common to men). All women, for example, have an interest in controlling their reproduction. They may choose to put the issue in the hands of some god, or they may choose to control it themselves, but it is an issue on which women as a group differ from men as a group. What might Ann Romney say about the interest of women in birth control?

Or in breast cancer detection and research, an area where women have an interest different from all but a tiny handful of men? When the Susan G. Komen foundation announced cuts to breast-cancer-related funding for Planned Parenthood, Mitt Romney might have had his wife address that issue, in which, as a breast cancer survivor, she happens to have a real personal stake.

Many women in the market economy share with women at home a desire for a more forgiving workplace, one where they could both work for pay and have better family lives. Maybe Ann Romney would like to address the relentless Republican opposition to the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Although Democrats, who are especially dependent on female voters in swing states, probably don’t think so, Rosen’s gaffe may be a blessing. It’s time to stop treating women as if we were one monolithic interest group. In the highly contested demographic of white female voters, married women such as Ann Romney who derive their livelihoods from the success of their husbands vote overwhelmingly for the GOP. And Republicans such as Wisconsin’s Walker tend to look after the interests of men, in, say, being paid more than women with the same job. Maybe Democrats ought to concentrate on those voters — single women, wage-earning women — who do have an interest in equal pay.

After a whirlwind few days, Rosen on Friday canceled a scheduled appearance on “Meet the Press.” In a statement, she explained that she had said everything she wanted to on the matter. “I apologized to Mrs. Romney and work-in-home moms for mistakenly giving the impression that I do not think their work is valuable. Of course it is. I will instead spend the weekend trying to explain to my kids the value of admitting a mistake and moving on.”

But what if Rosen could teach her kids something more valuable: what it means to say something true and difficult, and stand by it. Her comments were uncharacteristically tone-deaf. But her call to focus on those women who are really hurt by job losses was pitch-perfect.

 Hilary Rosen was right. Ann Romney doesn’t speak for women in the workforce. – The Washington Post.

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What Hilary Rosen Wishes She Had Said – 2012 Decoded

What Hilary Rosen Wishes She Had Said

By Jackie Koszczuk

April 12, 2012

Step on board the 2012 time machine. First, we’re debating whether women should have combat roles, next, whether they should have unfettered access to birth control and now, whether they really “work” if they shun the traditional workforce to stay at home to raise children. But, as I was reaching into the back of my closet to see if I could my locate my old white bell-bottoms and the jacket with the Indian fringe on the sleeves, it dawned that this newest political hot button – touched off by Democratic operative Hilary Rosen’s comment that Ann Romney “hasn’t worked a day in her life” – is not the 1970s throwback that it appears to be at first blush.

During the daylong fallout from Rosen’s remark, Salon’s Joan Walsh was among the commentators wondering aloud why we are once again this election season debating a question that has been asked and answered decisively since the feminist movement radically altered working lives for both sexes. But, on reflection, the quandary of work-versus-home touches a nerve for women that is still quite raw in some ways, despite three bygone decades of well-intentioned government actions intended to guarantee a level playing field of choice.

How many women who have chosen careers, while also having families, have not experienced the anguish of the unknowable emotional deprivations they fear they’ve inflicted on their kids?  And how many women who have chosen to stay home have not experienced pangs of remorse for the under-utilized graduate degree or the unrequited dream of becoming a cop. And how many more women would just kill to have the choice? How many are dropping off kids at day care on their way to punch a clock at Walmart because it’s a job, not a career, and they didn’t choose it, they just need it.

It’s the latter problem for working women today that Rosen was hoping to illuminate this week, before getting sidetracked with an ill considered swipe at Ann Romney about whether she “works” or not. She wrote in her blog today, “I admire women who can stay home and raise their kids full time. I even envy them sometimes. It is a wonderful luxury to have the choice. But let’s stipulate that it is not a choice that most women have in America today.”

Romney is a wealthy woman, and she in fact enjoys the luxury of choosing between the workplace and raising her five kids. For that matter, Rosen is a sought-after and well-compensated political communications strategist who gets to make the same choice. Chances are, if cooler heads prevailed, neither would deny the other those very personal decisions. It’s just a lot tougher to know what to do about the Walmart women, who want choice too, but can’t afford it. That’s where the debate ceases to be about an old social issue and becomes a very relevant and current economic one.


There would be nothing at all anachronistic about the Rosen flap if it succeeds in prompting a debate in 2012 about ways to more evenly distribute the wealth of having the ability to choose.

What Hilary Rosen Wishes She Had Said – 2012 Decoded.

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Mitt Romney’s problem with women is not Hilary Rosen, but Ann Romney | Washington Times Communities

Mitt Romney’s problem with women is not Hilary Rosen, but Ann Romney

by Julia Goralka

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Hilary Rosen’s opinions are not the problem. The problem is Mitt Romney’s reliance on his wife to speak for the average American woman.

 Photo: Mitt Romney stands behind his wife Ann AP


CHICAGO, April 14, 2012 — Hilary Rosen lost a huge chunk of credibility with her implication that stay-at-home mothers are not concerned with the economy, and that’s a shame.

The point Rosen was trying to make is that Mrs. Romney has never had to worry about having enough money to put food on her children’s plates or whether or not they will be able to afford college, and that because of this, she is not in touch with the majority of women in the country.

All of the outrage over Ms. Rosen’s comments is diverting attention from another underlying message in Mitt Romney’s remarks that his wife serves as his advisor on women’s issues.

Leaders use advisors to teach and inform them. Leaders choose these advisors based on their knowledge and expertise. However, Romney’s choice of advisor on women’s issues is a woman who does not understand the issues facing the majority of women in this country.
Mitt Romney is using, as his sole advisor, a person who is unfamiliar with where the country as a whole stands on her given field of expertise.

Yes, Mrs. Romney is a woman. She is a woman whose entire education is from elite private schools. She is a woman with a lakefront home in New Hampshire and an oceanfront home in La Jolla, California. She’s a woman who owns and competes with several dressage horses, which often cost in excess of $1 million.

Ann Romney, Mitt’s advisor on all things women

But is there anything in her background that implies that she truly understands the struggles facing the average American woman? Is there anything that implies that she understands that she is not the average American woman?

This country would be a very different place without First Ladies such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Abigail Adams, and, yes, Hillary Clinton. Thinking that a President will not be influenced by his spouse is naive. Thinking that one’s spouse can speak for the entire country by virtue of her gender is also naive.

A quick scan for other Romney advisors on women’s concerns comes up blank. It could be that Romney lumps men’s and women’s concerns together. It could also be that he is not concerned with women’s concerns. Perhaps he is not aware that while men and women have much in common, some of their concerns differ. Many women could not care less whether Viagra is covered by insurance.

A dressage horse in the ring

One hopes Mr. Romney’s advisor has pointed out to him the fact that these differences are very real. Unfortunately, Mrs. Romney has been known to keep things from Mitt that he might find disagreeable. When asked how many dressage horses she owns, she once replied “Mitt doesn’t even know the answer to that! I’m not going to tell you!”

Romney has chosen an advisor who was already part of his inner circle and who has limited expertise in her field. He makes no apparent effort to consult others. And he wants to be our Commander in Chief. He wants the authority to decide when our troops are deployed. He wants to be in charge of our economic situation. And apparently he wants advisors he is comfortable with, whether or not they are qualified for the job.

What we want, or what we should want, as a country is a leader who will choose advisors who have a better understanding of the world outside of the country club gates.
So while we continue shaking our fists at Hilary Rosen’s insensitivity, let’s not lose sight of Mitt Romney’s. Ms. Rosen’s remarks offended stay-at-home moms across the country. Mitt Romney’s advisor selection process should scare us all.

 Mitt Romney’s problem with women is not Hilary Rosen, but Ann Romney | Washington Times Communities.

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Hilary Rosen vs. Ann Romney: why the dust-up is fake –

Hilary Rosen vs. Ann Romney: why the dust-up is fake


Much of the fighting over ‘women’s issues’ feels like manufactured outrage. In the latest example, Republicans are pouncing on a comment by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen about Ann Romney.

By Liz MarlantesCorrespondent / April 12, 2012


In this March 20 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife Ann hug during a victory rally in Schaumburg, Ill.

Steven Senne/AP


Can we just say: Enough with the fake “wars” on/about/between women?

First, it was Democrats trying to make it seem as though a serious dispute about whether the government should require insurance plans to cover birth control was actually an argument about birth control in general. When the truth is, the latter debate is settled and will almost certainly never be revisited as a matter of public policy. Even Rick Santorum has made that clear, despite his personal views on the matter. 


Now, it’s Republicans pretending there’s a big national fight over a subject that most women basically agree on – the decision to work or stay home. Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen unintentionally set off this fake firestorm when she commented on CNN Wednesday night that Ann Romney – whom Mitt Romney has been referring to as his top adviser on women’s issues – has “never worked a day in her life.” Here’s the full quote :

“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. She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of 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.”

The Romney campaign pounced, with Ann Romney putting out her first-ever tweet : “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”

So why is this a fake fight? Because first of all, we don’t think there’s anybody out there (with kids at least) who doesn’t think raising children is hard work – as Ms. Rosen herself later said. But more to the point, because the debate over women staying home or going to work isn’t really much of a debate anymore – since increasingly, it’s a choice that most women simply don’t get to make. For women who do get to make that choice, that’s great – whatever they decide. But for the vast majority, forgoing a paycheck just isn’t an option these days. 

It’s clear from the context that Rosen wasn’t criticizing Ann Romney for staying home. She was criticizing the Romney campaign for presenting Ann Romney as an expert on the economic concerns of women, when Romney’s own economic circumstances (including the fact that she was able to stay home with all five of her sons) are not those that most women have. 

Was it a political mistake for Rosen to criticize Romney’s wife, regardless of the context? Sure. Ann Romney is a gracious person, a popular presence on the campaign trail, and an immensely sympathetic figure. Obama‘s top advisers wasted no time condemning Rosen’s remarks as “inappropriate,” saying family members should be “off-limits .”

But does this mean there’s a debate in the public sphere between Democrats and Republicans over whether women should work or stay home? No. And the real outrage is that these fake catfights take attention away from debates about serious issues that really do affect women.  

 Hilary Rosen vs. Ann Romney: why the dust-up is fake –

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Rosen gives Romney a chance to close the presidential gender gap – The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room


Rosen gives Romney a chance to close the presidential gender gap

By Alicia M. Cohn  04/12/12


Hilary Rosen’s comments that Ann Romney had “never” worked outside the home triggered a new round in the culture wars and provided an opening for Republicans to close a gender gap between Mitt Romney and President Obama.

Both parties seemed to sense that the veteran Democratic strategist’s criticism of the stay-at-home mom could be a game-changer in the fight for female voters.

Obama’s campaign sought to distance itself from Rosen, an adviser to the Democratic National Committee, and Romney’s campaign put the candidate’s wife on television, where she urged Rosen to “respect” the choices of other women.

“Look, I know what it’s like to struggle,” Ann Romney said on Fox News.

“Maybe I haven’t struggled as much financially as much as some people have,” said Ann Romney, who has battled breast cancer and multiple sclerosis. “I can tell you and promise you that I have had struggles in my life.”

Ann Romney, who has emerged as a strength of her husband’s campaign, then defended the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

“I would love to have people understand that Mitt and I have compassion for people who are struggling, and that’s why we’re running,” she continued.

She also defended her husband’s respect for women and his record of female advisers.

“You should see how many women he listens to. And that’s what I love about Mitt. He has so many women in his circles,” she said.

Obama has opened up a 19 percentage point lead over Romney among female voters, according to some polls, and Romney’s campaign this week has been doing everything it can to try to close the gap.

Rosen’s remarks on CNN Wednesday night, in that context, were a gift.

The strategist said Romney should not cite his wife as an influence on his economic policies toward women because Ann Romney — a mother of five — has “never worked a day in her life.”

Rosen initially showed few signs of backing down on Thursday. On Twitter, Rosen responded to becoming part of the latest campaign controversy by tweeting, “Bring it on!” But under heavy fire from her own party, Rosen issued a statement of apology to Ann Romney later in the day.

“I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended,” Rosen said in the statement. “Let’s declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance.”

Earlier on Thursday, Rosen had sought to distance her argument from Ann Romney as a person. Instead, she blamed Mitt Romney for bringing his wife into the political debate as “his economic surrogate.”

According to Rosen, Romney has avoided questions on the campaign trail about his support among women by referring to his wife, saying Ann’s interaction with female voters indicates their top concerns are the same economic issues he has consistently prioritized in his campaign strategy.

“This isn’t about whether Ann Romney or I or other women of means can afford to make a choice to stay home and raise kids,” she told CNN. “Most women in America, let’s face it, don’t have that choice.”

In a column for the Huffington Post, Rosen said Ann Romney is the wrong adviser for Mitt Romney on the economy.

“Nothing in Ann Romney’s history as we have heard it — hardworking mom she may have been — leads me to believe that Mitt has chosen the right expert to get feedback on this problem he professes to be so concerned about,” she wrote.

Rosen also reached out to Ann Romney directly, welcoming the GOP presidential candidate’s wife to Twitter and tweeting: “Please know, I admire you. But your husband shouldn’t say you are his expert on women and the economy.”

Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina called on Rosen to apologize for her Wednesday remarks, but Rosen dismissed his criticism early in the day.

“Republicans are making a very effective strategic decision today to attack me instead of talking about the issues that have been raised over the past few days,” she said on CNN Thursday.

Much of the week’s political chatter was a back and forth between Obama and Romney over whose policies are the best for women. Romney’s campaign initially appeared to misstep in its approach, taking criticism from Democrats over aides’ initial inability to confirm Romney’s position on the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a significant piece of equal-pay legislation.

But Rosen’s remarks looked likely to change the narrative, something Obama’s top campaign advisers appeared to realize.

Romney’s campaign moved to seize its opportunity, as Ann Romney opened a Twitter account and tweeted: “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work,” she wrote.

Her tweet, a rallying cry for stay-at-home moms, was quickly taken up by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), a Romney supporter and the only female member of the House Republican leadership.

“Wrong. Being a mom is a full-time job,” she shot back at Rosen in a tweet.

Josh Romney, one of the Romneys’ five sons, also defended his mother on Twitter, tweeting that Ann “is one of the smartest, hardest working woman I know. Could have done anything with her life, chose to raise me.”

Ann Romney said on Fox News that she and her husband both “listen” to women on the campaign trail, and that they share as motivation being “compassionate for those who are suffering.”

Rosen, whose own Twitter profile describes her as “a mom with opinions,” described the ability to choose to stay at home as a “wonderful luxury” in her op-ed for the Huffington Post.

 Rosen gives Romney a chance to close the presidential gender gap – The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room.

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