Romney Views The War On Women Through Rosen Colored Glasses

And it was going so well. Until…

The  Barack Obama campaign for re-election was sailing along smoother than even his most ardent supporters could have imagined. The effort was bolstered mightily by the president’s unstinting support from women. Every poll had presumed opponent Romney trailing badly among women when compared to Obama.

Then along comes an early campaign gift laid on Mitt Romney’s doorstep all neatly wrapped and ready to opened to the world. It didn’t take long to go viral. The republicans, who are great at immediately reacting to campaign events, would see to that. Seems a Democratic Strategist, Hilary Rosen decided it was a good idea to lambaste the strongest campaign asset in the Romney camp – Ann Romney.

This gaffe heard around the world comes hard on the heels of Romney’s embarrassing pause after being questioned in a press call about whether he supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 (hated by republicans). An aide even intervened and told the reporter that “we’ll get back to you on that.”  Even though Romney later allowed as to how he did support the Act, the damage had already been done. Just another nail in the anti-women Romney coffin.

In addition to Ledbetter, there was Obama’s relentless push for reproductive rights for women and the clueless and hateful Limbaugh attack on Sandra Fluke. The lady stars were perfectly aligned. Then a lady comes along and detonates years of work in two incredibly thoughtless and damaging paragraphs.

Hilary Rosen is a major Washington player who runs a Communication’s and P.R. firm. She knows her way around congress as a powerful lobbyist. She has been a frequent commentator and guest on CNN. She was guesting on Anderson Cooper’s AC360 Wednesday night when she decided to spew out the following; “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.”

Rosen continued, “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.”

It’s a true statement that Ann Romney has never held a formal job. The campaign has never tried to hide that fact. But there was also another truth apparently lost on Rosen;  raising kids is hard and Mrs. Romney immediately pounced on it tweeting, “I made a choice to stay home and raise 5 boys. Believe me, it was hard work.” One of those 5, Josh, posted that his mother “is one of the smartest, hardest working women I know. Could have done anything with her life, chose to raise me.”

To show the gravity of the fallout, one of the first democratic responses came from the party’s  strategic majordomo, Senior Advisor, David Axelrod. He tweeted, “Also Disappointed in Hilary Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney, they were inappropriate and offensive.”

Here’s the problem for the Obama campaign. Ann Romney has a compelling and in many ways heartrending back-story. In 1997 she was diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis. It’s currently in remission, but it’s a serious condition that can reappear and have devastating consequences. She is also a breast cancer survivor having undergone a lumpectomy and radiation treatment in 2008. She’s been active in the children’s charity, “Operation Kids” and was the recipient of the MS Society’s Annual Hope Award.

Rosen made a couple of weak Twitter attempts to soften her stance; “I’ve nothing against Ann Romney. I just don’t want Mitt using her as an expert on women struggling to support their family. She isn’t.”

Or how about this one? “When I said Ann Romney never worked, I meant she never had to care for her kids AND (caps hers) earn a paycheck like MOST American women.”

Lame and late. Especially given Ann’s health problems AND caring for her kids.

So, what’s the next move? It’s called damage control. A single misplaced statement can sink a campaign. Just ask Mitt Romney whose dad, George, might have been president if not for an offhand remark that he had been ‘brainwashed’ by the military on Vietnam. That was it. No more candidate George. Rosen is not at the very top echelons of the Obama campaign, but she’s close enough that come late summer the airwaves will be inundated with clips form the Cooper interview.

The obvious response is to give her the old heave-ho. Not so fast. First of all, she’s a woman. A man would have rightfully been gone before he left the studio. But Rosen will have her defenders, mostly working women. She is also strongly backed be the GLBT community that she has worked closely with and lobbied for for a number of years. She also set up a social network for Lesbians, another source of strong support. And – she was a strong advocate and lobbyist for the music industry. That has implications for the youth vote. So kicking Hilary to the curb isn’t as obvious as it seems.

On the other hand, not kicking her to the curb would be strongly spun during the general election presidential campaign as proof that for Obama, stay at home moms are to be less respected than working women. If this isn’t dealt with promptly and properly, it will cost Obama a percentage of his base and that could cost him the election.

Virtually every major election has it’s tipping point or 2 or 3. This is one of them.  You can bet that the Romney camp is looking high and low for a female Vice-President based on this latest development. Even though this flap may not last through more than a few news cycles, I guarantee you it will pop up big-time when things get down to the wire.

My guess is that you’ve heard the last of Ms. Rosen in an official capacity.

Editor’s Note: First Lady Michelle Obama

14 Replies to “Romney Views The War On Women Through Rosen Colored Glasses”

  1. The media is touting the Hilary Rosen/Ann Romney “feud” right now. Talk about being out of touch. What is missing from the entire reporting of this issue is not whether or not women work at paid jobs or stay home (and most do work outside the home), the media is turning this into a cat fight instead of promoting a real discussion of women’s issues. The issue of men not living up to their obligations, whether because of personal choice, the economy, divorce or single parenthood isn’t even mentioned. It boils down to working women vs. those who made the choice, and can actually afford to, stay at home with their kids.

    It’s still puzzling to me, though, how anyone can compare the “trials and tribulations” of a very wealthy woman (who even isn’t like the majority of stay at home moms) to women who must, out of economic necessity, work to bring money into the family and don’t actually have the choice to stay at home–and the majority are not working for “extras”, they’re working to pay for necessities (even college for their kids, which absolutely is a necessity these days in a changing world with so much competition) . Wouldn’t we all have liked to stay at home to guide and care for our precious children, to encourage and help them, instead of spending so much time at boring and repetitive jobs which didn’t match our expectations of what a career really is?

    The issue of the kind of privilege Ann Romney was exposed to, as well as what every day women are going through, needs to be examined instead of comparing apples and oranges.

    P.S. Did Ann Romney ever have to pay 1/3 of a paycheck for child care? I did, and was audited by the IRS many years ago. As a divorced mother, daycare was imperative to allow me to support my 2 kids (their dad certainly didn’t). I had the receipts to prove it, too. Many working women today are in the same bind.

  2. Right-wing pundits can call Sandra Fluke a prostitute and the First Lady a gorilla who can cut off one of her buttocks and feed an army, but no one may suggest Anne Romney has never undergone financial hardship? Mitt himself interjected her as an expert on women’s needs, and Hilary Rosen only told the truth. The center-left needs to grow a pair, and the center a sense of justice.

  3. The first thing that struck me when I read this was FIVE children. As if there weren’t too many people on the earth as it is (I wonder if they have closet quiverfull tendencies). Then I thought about how much easier it is to live and take care of someone when you have resources, as compared to all of us who barely survive. I thought about a friend of mine (I haven’t seen her in years) who although a single mom, put herself through college and went on to graduate school. They resisted her ever step of the way, and she’d had the “trailer trash” thrown in her face several times. She worked, took care of her daughter, AND went to school full time – and in spite of all the pressure to give up and accept her lot in life as “trailer trash”, graduated with honors. I thought about others I’ve known, trying to feed their family and take care of the children while both the husband and wife worked – the husband holding down a full time job and a part time job, and the wife two part-time jobs, just to keep a basic roof over their head, food on their table, and medical care for their children – AND taking care of their home and children as well.

    The fact is, people like the Romneys cannot be compared to the bottom 20%. They can’t even be compared to the bottom 50%. They don’t have a clue. Yeah, taking care of a home (and I imagine raising children – sadly, we couldn’t have any) isn’t easy. It’s a million times tougher when you HAVE to work or deal with other issues. It’s a million times tougher when you aren’t sure you’re going to have food on the table the next day, or that you might loose the roof from over your head at any time, or that you’ll have another medical emergency and no resources to deal with it.

    I’m not too happy with the way Rosen worded it, but at the same time, Mrs. Romney has had it easy, even WITH the medical problems. Shoot – she’s in remission. I know people who are NOT. Cancer survivor? My wife also- twice (and she works what she can in spite of truly limiting health problems). I’m a stroke survivor and I live with constant, unending pain and low energy (severe FMS). My best friend has survived health problems that should have killed him. My mentor – survived brain cancer and still works. We all don’t have the luxury of a nice income or the resources the Romneys have. That would make our world a lot easier and nicer. Shit, it would make life TOLERABLE.

    I wouldn’t be so angry if there was some fairness in this world and the people like I mentioned had more resources to work with (and medical care wasn’t so hard to come by). When people like Romney try to make it even harder on us and then get mad when someone points out how easy they have it… disgust is a mild word to use for what I feel.

  4. Please not forget, amongst some of his (Romney’s) major gaffes, how Romney would, if elected, would do away with Planned Parenthood.

  5. If you read her comment in context the meaning is clear. hilary Rosen was accurate. She was pointing out that if Mitt is relying on Ann for advice about the challenges of women who work at a for pay job in addition to a home life that Ann has no personal experience in that istuation where the woman either has a job outside of the home or doesn’t have money for rent and food etc.

    It was not an attack on wommen who have made the choice and have the luxury of making the choice to stay home.

    Also the Obama campaign says Hilary Rosen does not work for them.

    Democrats shoud grow a pair of balls and stop eating their own vrytime a right winger complains,. This was stricly an attmpt to make hay out of thin aie and the writer of this post and others fell for this nonsense. The story may really be about the llack of backbone by Democrats aand otherwise sympathetic bloggers.

    Hilary Rosen was right on target.
    this whole flap is much ado about othing.

  6. I am suprised that you would suggest that we need to find away to “deal” with Hilary Rosen.WHAT SHE SAID WAS THE TRUTH.And although I agree that raising children,whether it be 1 or 5 is the toughest job there is,it doesn’t make you an expert on the problems women face today.Mrs.Romney has millions of ways to make her life easier and never had to worry about putting food on the table to feed her 5 sons,or pay her bills or pay a morgage.I think the best way to deal with Hilary is to stand up for what she said and explain better what she meant,not throw her under the bus.

  7. Very well said, Older Wiser! As a working mother (and a Single working mother for quite a few years) I know exactly what Hilary Rosen meant, she just didn’t word it very well.

    Ann Romney doesn’t know what it’s like to NOT have the choice to stay at home with her children. She’s never had to make the choice between paying her babysitter or paying her mortgage or putting nutritious food on the table for her children. She’s never had to wonder if her child support check will come on time, or if it comes at all. And I will not for one second believe that she raised those children without extra help. People who drive two Cadillacs have extra help.

    Sorry, Dennis, you’re dead wrong. This incident will serve to further widen the gap between the Romney’s and the 99%. This isn’t about respect for women who chose to stay at home and raise their kids and how hard that job is or isn’t. It’s about those who are free to make that choice vs. those of who who don’t.

  8. Dear Contributors:

    Excellent comments. I am in 100% agreement. Michelle has had numerous racist, vindictive and vicious comments hurled her way as was pointed out.

    When I said this must be dealt with, I was simply reflecting the practical reality of the political arena. The republicans will take massive amounts of those super PAC dollars and spin Rosen’s comments into an almost unrecognizable political full frontal assault as the race progresses.

    I do think Barack gets it. When Kerry dawdled on his Swift-boat response, it cost him the presidency – with the help of numerous election illegalities in Ohio. The Obama Administration on the other hand came out with a comprehensive and high-profile media response that at least softened the effect of Rosen’s ill-chosen (politically), albeit honest words.

    Again, thank you for your contributions to Politicus. They are invaluable. Keep them coming.

  9. Well, maybe if Anne was tossed under the bus, like many “mothers” who married rich and powerful men (Gingirch) desiring a younger trophy wife I think, no, I KNOW, she’d be singin’ a different tune…
    She’s never stepped off the “Lear” to find there are no steps down, just air, without a “golden parachute”. Romney gets an “F” for even opening the maw…

  10. Politically the statement may be a problem (because of the rich $$$ and the conservative bias in the media), but I think and hope it will stick in the mind of the mothers in the 99%.

  11. There are 2 issues to consider. First, Hillary Rosen stepped into it when she said that Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life. As someone who stayed at home for the first 3 years of my only child’s life, I can attest that it IS work raising kids whether one works outside the home or not. The more children one has, the truer it is, so raising 5 kids is definitely not a walk in the park. However, Ms. Rosen is right in saying that Willard Romney’s enormous wealth has made it so that his wife never had to worry about the financial issues that the majority of women have to deal with. Because of the Romneys’ wealth, Mrs. Romney is really not in a position to give insight on the issues of women who live from paycheck to paycheck. Besides, she’s not running for office, but her ever-clueless husband is, and he absolutely sucks.

  12. How many mothers (whether working outside the home or not) have access to maids, cooks, chauffeurs, “personal assistants”, nannies, etc. that I’m willing to bet were available to Ann Romney”? Not only did she have a choice whether or not to work or stay at home, she had a whole support system to reinforce her choice.

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