Skip to main content

Ann Romney and working moms

By Hilary Rosen, CNN Political Contributor
updated 2:29 PM EDT, Thu April 12, 2012

Editor's note: Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist, is a CNN political contributor. Follow her on Twitter.

(CNN) -- My Twitter feed was on fire after an appearance Wednesday night on CNN's AC360, where I said that I thought it was wrong for Mitt Romney to be using his wife as his guide to women's economic struggles when she "had never worked a day in her life."

Democrat's comment about Ann Romney creates Twitter firestorm

Oh my, you should read the tweets and the hate mail I got after that. The accusations were flying. I don't know what it means to be a mom (I have 2 children). I obviously don't value the work that a mother does and how hard it is (the hardest job I have ever had); and I absolutely hate anyone who doesn't have the same views as I do (hate is a strong word).

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. 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.

Sound off: What do you think about Rosen's comments?

Campaign fight over women
Romney, Obama battle over women voters
Who is Ann Romney?
Rosen: Attacks don't erase Romney record

If they want to attack me and distract the public's attention away from their nominee's woeful record, it just demonstrates how much they just don't get it.

My favorite tweet was from someone who said that Republicans like Ann Romney so much more than Mitt that by attacking her (which I didn't), I got people to defend him in a way they never would. That last one, I can actually understand.

Now let's be clear on one thing. I have no judgments about women who work outside the home versus women who work in the home raising a family. 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.

Why does this even matter? It matters purely because Mitt Romney put the issue of his wife's views squarely on the table.

As Ruth Marcus noted in her column yesterday in the Washington Post, Romney, when asked last week about the gender gap, twice said he wished his wife could take the question.

"My wife has the occasion, as you know, to campaign on her own and also with me," Romney told newspaper editors, "and she reports to me regularly that the issue women care about most is the economy."

So it begs the question, is Ann Romney Mitt's touchstone for women who are struggling economically or not? 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.

I have nothing against Ann Romney. She seems like a nice lady who has raised nice boys, struggled with illness and handles its long-term effects with grace and dignity. I admire her grit in talking about her illness publicly.

What is more important to me and 57% of current women voters is her husband saying he supports women's economic issues because they are the only issues that matter to us and then he fails on even those.

Let's put aside for a moment his views on women's health issues -- such as his pledge to repeal funding for Planned Parenthood or repeal Title X -- which provides important health services for poor women, and true anecdotes (such as when he was a Bishop in his church, he actually went to a congregant's hospital room and told a young single mother who had just given birth that she was shaming the church and should give her baby away). Let's put those issues of respect and health dignity away.

Let's just focus on his economic record on behalf of women. When Romney ran Bain Capital, less than 10% of the senior workforce were women. And he said in his 1994 Senate race that it was because he had trouble finding qualified women to be executives. Is there a woman alive who believes that?

I personally believe that women hate the way our health issues were made a political football by the Republicans in the last several months. But I am pragmatic enough to believe that the economic issues do matter greatly to women and men alike. But the only way that Mitt Romney will succeed in closing the wide gender gap between him and President Obama is if he stops pretending that it doesn't exist.

Follow CNN Opinion on Twitter: @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Hilary Rosen.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:10 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
If Obama thinks pushing out Hagel will be seen as the housecleaning many have eyed for his national security process, he'll be disappointed, says David Rothkopf.
updated 8:11 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
The decision by the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney to announce the Ferguson grand jury decision at night was dangerous, says Jeff Toobin.
updated 3:57 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
China's influence in Latin America is nothing new. Beijing has a voracious appetite for natural resources and deep pockets, says Frida Ghitis.
updated 4:51 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in the capital Tehran on June 14, 2014.
The decision to extend the deadline for talks over Iran's nuclear program doesn't change Tehran's dubious history on the issue, writes Michael Rubin.
updated 2:25 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Maria Cardona says Republicans should appreciate President Obama's executive action on immigration.
updated 7:44 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Van Jones says the Hunger Games is a more sweeping critique of wealth inequality than Elizabeth Warren's speech.
updated 6:29 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
obama immigration
David Gergen: It's deeply troubling to grant legal safe haven to unauthorized immigrants by executive order.
updated 8:34 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Charles Kaiser recalls a four-hour lunch that offered insight into the famed director's genius.
updated 3:12 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
updated 10:13 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
updated 8:21 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
updated 5:56 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
updated 3:11 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
updated 8:45 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
updated 8:19 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
updated 10:19 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
updated 12:59 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
updated 9:58 PM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
updated 4:41 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
updated 8:21 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
updated 7:16 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
updated 11:07 PM EST, Sun November 16, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT