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Transcript of Hilary Rosen's Actual Ann Romney Comments Reveals Intent, Yet Still Sparks Working Mom / Stay at Home Mom Conflict

By April 12, 2012

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For women on both sides of the working mother/stay-at-home mother (SAHM) divide, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen's infamous comment about Ann Romney last night on CNN opened up old wounds. While the powers that be are using this as a political football, the issue isn't politics but the value of women's work and what qualifies as work.

If you haven't heard the story, Rosen was on Anderson Cooper 360 Wednesday night and took issue with the idea that presumed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney was looking to his wife for advice on issues facing women.

Rosen, a mother of two who has felt the push-pull conflict of balancing family and career,  expressed her opinion that because Ann Romney never worked outside the home for a paycheck, she did not reflect the majority of women's lives in this country. The sentence uttered by Rosen that's been taken out of context and tweeted and repeated across the blogosphere is "His wife has actually never worked a day in her life."

The choice of words is the issue. By not recognizing childrearing as "work" she inadvertently belittled those women who devote 24/7 to this kind of labor, and this slip was gleefully picked up as an example of how the Democrats regarded SAHMs.

As any of us who've raised children know, child-rearing is some of the hardest work any parent -- regardless of gender -- will ever do. Yet it takes a certain level of economic security for a woman capable of earning a paycheck to be able to stay at home and focus on her family. Those who are heavily in debt, head up single-parent households, are food insecure or don't have another source of income to rely on cannot make this choice.

This is what Hilary Rosen was trying to communicate, but in doing so she came dangerously close to a tender spot that makes many SAHMs bristle: why are women who stay home with children held in lower regard by society than women who work outside the home? Why do these women feel compelled to defend their choice?

Rosen was not attacking SAHMs. She was merely trying to point out that it's probably not the wisest decision for a wealthy candidate to rely on his privileged spouse to provide guidance on issues that face typical American women who are employed outside the home earning a paycheck that is essential to the economic survival of their families. But in this day of Twitter, Facebook, and instantaneous reactions, it's the sound bite that prevails, not the larger argument wrapped around that soundbite.

For the record and to set things straight, here's the full transcript of what Hilary Rosen actually said (which I transcribed from the CNN clip of the discussion):

With respect to economic issues, I think actually that Mitt Romney is right, that ultimately women care more about the economic well-being of their families and the like. But he doesn't connect on that issue either. 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.

So I think that, yes,  it's about these positions and yes, I think there will be a war of words about the positions. But there's something much more fundamental about Mitt Romney. He just seems so old-fashioned when it comes to women and I think that comes across and I think that that's going to hurt him over the long term. He just doesn't really see us as equal.

Having read the complete transcript, what do you think? Was Hilary Rosen justified in making her point, or was she attacking SAHMs? It's interesting to note that Ann Romney actually signed up on Twitter to respond to Rosen's comments (she had not had an account prior to this) and tweet her thoughts.

I'm not saying that being on Twitter is the be-all and the end-all, but with estimates as high as a quarter of a billion registered Twitter users back in 2011, perhaps Ann Romney is a bit behind the curve. If her husband is looking to her to accurately gauge the pulse of the American woman, perhaps she needs to up her social media game just a bit.

Related article:

Why Hilary Rosen's Comment About Ann Romney Fueled the Mommy Wars Fire


April 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm
(1) kate says:

Rosen’s remarks imply that no one is able to listen to the outpouring of concerns from fellow citizens, a politician’s stock in trade, and see them in a clear context, unless the listener shares the exact same life situation. Thus, Jesse Jackson, who sent his sons to one of the most prestigious and expensive private schools in the country cannot possibly understand how hard I work to support my family. Joe Biden, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer must also be disqualified since they are multi-millionares and thus live a world different from most, yet they are never criticized for their bombastic comments. Rosen and a multitude of strategists, pundits, talking heads and politicians are all highly compensated, and therefore, according to Ms Rosen’s critique, not qualified to assess others who get by on a fraction of her iincome. Her comment specifically says that Ann Romney could not possibly understand what “we” go through …… implying that Rosen is part of the “we” and had no choice but to work, when in fact, she has certainly earned enough to be a SAHM if she chose to. And finally, the press swooned over the ill-fated Elizabeth Edwards because of her illness, but choose to attack Mrs. Romney who has conducted her life and fought her illnesses with dignity. So no matter how it is spun, Rosen’s comments revealed the ugliness and the double standard of the left in this country.

April 14, 2012 at 10:38 am
(2) Jerry Order says:

I search and searched the web for the actual comment and THIS was the only place that I could find the actual comment. It seems that no one except you has actually take the time to find and analyze it. Thank you.

April 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm
(3) Susan says:

Rosen’s choice of words was unfortunate, but I and many other women certainly understand her frustration. The Republicans have run a campaign that is hostile to women, and then they expect to be able to pull out the wife card and win them back? I have a huge amount of respect for Ann Romney, but if Mitt Romney thinks that by listening to his wife, he is going to understand the concerns of women across America, he is as misguided as he appears to be.

April 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm
(4) angela says:

She said that women who have not worked outside the home are not qualified to speak about what all women, or at least working women, are concerned about. And that Ann has no idea about the “working” woman’s struggles and worries over family economics. WRONG! They are probably MORE worried about money and struggle HARDER with finances in order to be able to live on one income. Not to mention Hillary’s entire statement was premised upon the false assumption that stay-at-home moms are married to independently wealthy men. Hahahaha! I wish!!

April 15, 2012 at 2:30 pm
(5) Frank vronick says:

Spin spin spin. The obvious purpose of the comment was to appeal to the us v them envy separation politics. Not good.

April 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm
(6) Elphaba says:


Hilery’s comment was concerning Ann Romney, not all stay-at-home moms. As to Ann Romney – being a wife of a multi-millionaire, having access to and utilizing the services of housekeepers, cooks and/or nannies does not qualify her to speak as an expert for women’s issues. She has never had to worry about finances, budgets, food and shelter that many mothers, Stay-at-Home or working, go through every day.

That’s the part that irritates me most with the Romney campaign and the Republicans in general, the total lack of knowledge or concern of what the average American faces every single day.

I think its great that Romney has been able to accumulate a large fortune and is able to benefit his family because of it. But that fortune does not give him the knowledge of struggling to get the basic needs of life met. When he says he’s not concerned for the very poor because they have a social safety net shows he has no concept of being very poor in this country. Anyone who thinks the social safety net is sufficient to mets a family’s needs has never tried to live on what is provided. Add to that the budgets proposed by the Republicans to slash even that shouts their inability to comprehend being poor in this country.

I make a decent living and am blessed to be able to provide the basic needs of my family. But it wasn’t always so and I do remember surviving on discarded food from my work so I could have heat in may apartment. My experiences do not qualify me to be an expert on the trevails of being rich, but I do not claim to be an expert on that. I just wish that those with the greater means feel that makes them experts on surviving on less. Just listening to many of the comments made by the candidates, expecially Romney, shows that they don’t have a clue.

April 17, 2012 at 12:52 pm
(7) Ken says:

so, anyone else ever have a nanny raise their kids? Isnt that part of what stay at home moms all across the nation. Maids, cooks, and nanny’s, oh yeah, Romney has the pulse of the hard working moms out there..lol

Mitt wants women back working in 2 years after having a kid, well, unless wealthy. then just get a nanny and stay home anyway.

The Romney’s have convinced a portion of this nation that they are like everyone else. are we joking???

April 18, 2012 at 4:14 am
(8) emma Hatch says:

Women have an innate understanding of what women go through on all levels. And I know it’s just politics, but it is pretty rotten that the Romney’s are castigated because they are rich. Since when do we condemn someone because he is successful? Every senator, congressman, every politician in the public eye is probably at the very least, a millionaire, but we don’t condemn them.

April 18, 2012 at 9:24 am
(9) eileen says:

I don’t think anyone was putting down the Romney’s for being successful. Please reread Elphaba’s comment.
Thank you Linda for consistently reading through the drama and presenting the facts in a logical, concise, and interesting way.

April 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm
(10) LyNell says:

By now we all know this was a “manufactured” controversy – and one that Ann Romney now considers “an early birthday gift”. Nevertheless, though inartfully put, the crux of Rosen’s remark remains valid. If a candidate seeks the counsel of an expert in any field, we have a legitimate right – and some might say responsibility – to examine that counsel’s credentials. Ann Romney, by all accounts, has been a wonderful, devoted wife and mother. Her credentials in that arena seem impeccable. But that wasn’t the area Mitt claimed to seek her advice. So her counsel with regard to how the majority of women cope with economic uncertainty, is no more valid than say — her counsel on normalizing relations with Cuba or admitting Palestine into the UN.

April 20, 2012 at 1:30 am
(11) debrah says:

The whole stay-at-home vs workingmom is a way women are kept preoccupied from the reality that women, all women, still don’t have the same rights and opportunities as men and the progress that has been made is under attack. Women need to stand together. Right or Left, we have more in common than differences. Women need to have a direct voice and we need to unite on issues related to all of us.

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