Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, talks… (M. Spencer Green / AP File…)
Reporting from Providence, R.I. — Ann Romney weighed in publicly Thursday about the firestorm over a Democratic strategist’s remark that she’d never “worked a day in her life” – arguing that her choice and the choice of other women to stay home and raise their children should be respected.
With a smile, the wife of the presumed Republican nominee brushed off Hilary Rosen’s comments on CNN on Wednesday night that she’d “never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing” and should not be advising her husband about the economic struggles women are facing in the recession.
“She should have come to my house when those five boys were causing so much trouble, it wasn’t so easy,” Romney said with a laugh. “My career choice was to be a mother. And I think all of us need to know that we need to respect the choices that women make. 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.... We have to respect women in all those choices that they make.”
She added a “shout-out” to all the men who were raising children at home: “This is obviously an awesome responsibility to raise children.”
Though Rosen does not have any role in the Obama campaign, the Romney campaign seized on her comments on CNN’s "AC 360" Thursday night to open a new front against the president’s campaign.
Romney’s support among moderate and independent women has fallen in recent months. And as the campaign moved into the general election phase this week, his team redoubled its efforts to try to win them back by arguing that women have suffered disproportionately under the administration’s economic policies — an assertion furiously disputed by the Obama team.
Attempting to blur the lines about Rosen’s role, one Romney spokesman inaccurately referred to her as an “Obama advisor” in a tweet late Thursday night. In Wednesday night’s flood of social media commentary— which Rosen referred to as “faux anger from the right” in a piece at the Huffington Post — other Romney backers suggested the president should apologize to Ann Romney on Rosen’s behalf. The Romney campaign held yet another conference call with their female surrogates on women in “the Obama economy” to respond to Rosen’s remarks Thursday morning.
For their part, Obama’s top advisors immediately distanced themselves from Rosen’s remarks. Campaign Manager Jim Messina called on Rosen to apologize; Obama advisor David Axelrod said Rosen’s comments were “inappropriate and offensive.”
Ann Romney was cautious in her comments Thursday – never directly criticizing Rosen or suggesting that she had any link to the Obama campaign. But she pushed back on Rosen’s assertion that, by virtue of their wealth, she and her husband could not understand what women are going through. She argued it was their “compassion for people who are struggling” that drew them into the Republican race.
She also firmly disputed Rosen’s assertion that her husband is “old-fashioned” and does not view women as equals, noting that many of his top advisors and business colleagues have been women.
“He has so many women in his circle,” she said. “Mitt Romney is a person that admires women and listens to them, and I am grateful that he listens to me and listens to what I am telling him as well about what women are facing right now. And he’s listening and he cares.”