Overheard on CNN.com: Can the Romneys relate to the average family?
In light of comments by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, readers are discussing if the Romneys can relate to average folks.
April 12th, 2012
07:36 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Can the Romneys relate to the average family?

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen has apologized for comments about Ann Romney, whom she said "never worked a day in her life" as a stay-at-home mother. "Mommy wars" and women's issues have taken center stage. Readers discussed whether the Romneys can relate to moms and families.

Ann Romney and working moms

The most-liked comment on the story agreed with Rosen.

DrMAH: "(Rosen is) absolutely right. The ultra-rich Romneys have no idea what the rest of us go through, and Mitt has made it clear that he has no interest in finding out. She's not qualified to speak about women's concerns. LOTS of us struggle with illness, get degrees, and raise kids, but almost NONE of us have an army of domestic servants to do all the heavy lifting while we work on our dressage."

Some of the responses talked about the Romneys' inexpensive basement apartment during their undergraduate years.

brianwaz: "They lived in a $50-a-month basement apartment at the start of their marriage (with a baby). Try using facts next time."

nullcodes: "Though he lived in a basement apartment, his dad who was a governor could have saved him from any real financial or other messes."

Many of our readers have wondered whether the Romneys' situation compares to those of other Americans.

dkinabq: "What exactly does Ann Romney have to say about the struggles of women? Did she raise her children by herself? Is she facing her illnesses without health insurance? Is she working two jobs to make ends meet for her family? The Romneys are so out of touch with reality, it isn't funny."

JHarris: "Ann Romney has been blessed financially, but has struggled in other areas. She has been diagnosed with both MS and breast cancer (in remission). It is not 'reality' that everybody is struggling financially. It is also not 'reality' that everybody has major health issues. Different people have different trials. Ann Romney has had her share."

This reader said we shouldn't expect the Romneys to live like paupers.

Sarah: "Not everyone in America doesn't have health insurance or is a single mom or working two jobs. The whole point of this country is that, yeah, some people have the opportunity to have way more money than the rest of us. Why do we have to begrudge them that? Single parenthood, working two jobs, etc. is SOME people's reality, but not everyone's. Having more money than most of the rest of us could ever dream of is the Romney's reality. They're in touch with their own reality."

And this person wanted to know what insight Ann Romney can offer.

JLubes: "The bigger question is how does any of her experience give her any insight on the economy or jobs for women? If you've never had a paying job, never had to work for insurance, never had to make ends meet to pay for food how can she possibly relate to those women (the majority) that are? How can she possibly relate to someone like my mother who had to raise two kids in a single bedroom apartment while going back to school and collecting welfare? How many Thanksgivings did she have to go to the food shelf to make sure she could feed her kids? She has no idea about these issues yet Romney has no problem going to her as the expert in this regard. These are the points Rosen is talking about. When you are championed as knowing what issues women are going through you are going to get criticized for your shortcomings."

This reader says she believes working out of the home has financial consequences as well as benefits.

Grammie: "Lots of us who stayed at home didn't have that income and what it could buy. My husband and I lagged behind some of our friends' ability to afford vacations, new cars, domestic help, etc. However some of our friends, even with two incomes, didn't do any better than we did. Working out of the home is per se more expensive and unless the two partners each have a substantial income your added expenses and taxes can virtually wipe out any potential financial advantage. It costs money if both parents have full-time jobs outside the home. I had my fill of sneering condescension from my feminist neighbors 30 years ago and that attitude appears to be alive and well today. ... I don't think that it is coincidental that this steadily worsening debt and economic crisis has been growing in tandem with the ever-increasing demands for government to provide that which husbands and fathers provided in the past."

Some said Rosen is being selective in her views.

bjiggs: "Yes, we know Hilary. You care about women. You've been fighting for them your entire career ... but only those whose politics are in agreement with your own. The rest can take a flying leap as far as you're concerned, right? Can you cite a single example of a time you 'defended the rights' of a conservative woman? Just one more hack."

This reader said Mitt Romney, not Hilary Rosen, is to blame.

claudiaW: "Romney brought this discussion on himself by designating his wife to make his case for him. Hilary is right. Mrs. Romney has had all the luxuries that come with having money and has never had to face the burdens of women who work outside the home while also tending to their families. Health care is a huge concern to women, but Mr. Romney wants to end Planned Parenthood as well as the Affordable Care Act. Mitt Romney has no idea of the struggles that most women AND men face today. Mrs. Romney said their concern is the economy, yet her husband's record on jobs is abysmal."

Jed Sybrowsky: "Haha ... Really? Did you really just say Mrs. Romney has never had to face the burdens [other] women face? I'm sorry to break it to you but the Romneys' money didn't fix her MS. It's people like you that think money fixes everything. People who have money still feel pain and hardship. I think she understands hardship as well as anyone else."

Some said Obama's policies have been tough on mothers.

blueskiesmom: "Feminists and socialists have never understood the importance of the family unit and it looks like they never will. I chose to stay home and raise our kids, but it wasn't a luxury, it was a sacrifice - financially. It was a decision I'd make again now that I've seen the adults my kids have become. Let me also say, if anyone understands the brunt of the Obama economy, it's the moms who have to manage the higher food prices, higher gas prices, lower home values and still make a dollar stretch across the needs of an entire family. Maybe Ann Romney has more money than me, but she's also raised kids that pay into the economy and aren't expecting the rest of us to pay for their abortions or day care choices."

Are politicians in touch with people?

fofotavour: "Mitt Romney's wife has not worked a day in her life; that is a fact. She's a stay-at-home mom; that's a fact. There are many other stay-at-home moms also, and that's a fact. The difference between them and Ann Romney is that many of these other stay-at-home moms have to take care of their children without the luxury of having a nanny at their disposal, clean the house by themselves without having a cleaning staff, cook the meals without having cooks ... without any experts helping them send the money to offshore banks to avoid being taxed more than 14%, and so on and so forth. That's the fact, too. Now are you telling me that the Romneys are in touch with the working class in America? I say no ..."

jimtellsthetruth: "Unlike Obama who never worked a 'real' job in his life, and no, being a professor and a government employee is hardly hard work. What a joke, last time I checked Obama was a millionaire, too! Lets see what his tax rate is in a couple of years, what a joke."

What's your take? Who's in touch? Who's not? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Economy • Elections • Mitt Romney • Overheard on CNN.com • Politics
soundoff (277 Responses)
  1. drod3

    It's quite simple really. Look at what presidents do in eight years in office.

    Clinton made this country great.
    Bush nearly destroyed it.
    Obama will make it great once more.

    April 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. bonnie

    Of course Romney can't relate. He and Ann have no idea what the working class 's needs are. If we vote republican we will be right back where we were when Bush was in office. Obama has finally got us on the road to recovery, put Romney in and let him put us back where Bush had us or farther. Take two steps forward and three steps back. Come on America!!!!! We are smarter than that!!!!

    April 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. MaryM

    Can the Romneys relate to the average Americans? Hell NO. The majority of working moms AND stay at home moms know the difference between doing ALL the work for yourself and having the work done for you by the maids, nannies, butlers, gardeners, drivers. etc. Understand?

    April 21, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Craig

      In the same way that Obama can't relate to business owners, because he has never been one. Or he can't relate to conservatives, because he has never been one. Or he can't relate to a soldier, since he has never been one. Or Hispanics, because . . . What silly nonsense to try to discredit people based on their differences.

      April 23, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doug

      The Obamas have none of that at the White House! I'm sure once they leave office that the Obamas will also go back to living a very relatable life as they were prior to becoming the first family. Mary, just how far up your but has your head traveled.

      April 30, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. kathy

    Seriously, lets be real annabell or mittens have NO ideal what hard times are.Try going without a meal so there will be enough for your kids to eat,not to mention watching your kids happily eat generic week old cookies for a treat from the local foodshelf.I was shocked to see mitt on TV shocked that a hamburger could be wrapped in paper(McDonalds).

    April 21, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. betsy9917

    Romney's income for 2010 was $21 million. If you average that out over every day of the year, that's like waking up EVERY DAY and receiving a check in the mail for $57,000. That's fifty-seven thousand dollars every day of the year, including weekends. Let that sink in for a minute, I mean really picture yourself having that kind of wealth, and then tell me how this guy and his stay at home wife can relate to a family with two working parents making less in an entire year than they made in one day. Really let it sink in, because we can't relate to that kind of wealth and they can't relate to us. Another way to look at this, if my math is correct, is if you and I were to work 40 hours a week to earn this income, our hourly salary would be around $10,100 PER HOUR. That's per hour. The 1% are so far removed from the rest of the country that it's almost mind boggling to even comprehend. I'm not against rich people, but I am saying that their lives are vastly different from ours. For people to deny this is absurd. I can't relate to someone with a car elevator and they can't relate to the average struggling working class American. It is what it is.

    April 21, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. John

    GOP are 15% behind in the women's vote. More women vote than men. GOP are 70% behind in the Latino vote.
    There is no path to victory for the GOP with those numbers. If anyone tells you different they are not telling you the truth. The continuous GOP war on women has certainly backfired......

    April 22, 2012 at 2:14 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. FlotsamJetsam

    The GOP are creating this War on Women. Look at all the anti-women legislation regarding women's gynecology across the country.
    Obviously Romney and his wife have no idea about any of this so yes they are totally out of touch.

    April 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Stonesrule

    It just occurred to me, with all the noise the media is making about
    Romney's wealth, I don't recall such bluster and hand-wringing over the Kennedy
    fortune. Or, for that matter, John Kerry's. Or the fact that John Kerry
    gave virtually nothing to charity while Romney gave something on the order of
    $4 million.
    Oh. Wait. I just remembered; Romney is Republican. Kerry and the Kennedys
    are Democrats.
    Also, Romney worked for his money. Kennedy inherited his. And Kerry
    married it.
    Never mind. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along

    April 22, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ivy of Madison

      It's not about the wealth, it's about what you do with it and how you flaunt it. When the Kennedys and Kerry ran for office, those were different times and the issues were different. Your point is out of touch, just like Romney is.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  9. Human

    Mitt doesn't represent me, I have no aspirations to be like him, I like a simple low cost life because materialism or the need to own things is not important to me. I do like President Obama because I know he sees us down here and he exhibits a genuinely positive personality. You don't have to be a diamond expert to spot clarity and good solid facets, none of these are visible in Mitt or the party he represents.

    April 23, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Keir Weimer

    Keir Weimer believes that more people need to evaluate candidates based on their views, positions on the issues, and their entire family and personal story. Mr. Romney has been consistently portrayed as an out-of-touch wealthy businessman, who will be unable to relate and address the concerns of the average american.

    Keir Weimer believes this to be patently false, and a dangerous misconception that must be quelled immediately. If those who from the elitist left and the intelligentsia in this country can remember correctly, FDR, JFK, LBJ and many more liberal democrats who have been president were from extremely wealthy families, and this was never an issue or concern from the other side.

    Keir Weimer strongly feels that wealth is a non-issue with regard to one's ability to relate, lead and be Commander-in-Chief of this great country. When we put this distraction aside and focus on the pressing issues facing us, we will soon realize that from a position and policy standpoint, Mr. Romney has a distinctly better plan for leading the country in the right direction as we approach this grave crossroads in American politics.

    -Keir Weimer

    April 26, 2012 at 8:25 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. ♚Mmmmm♛

    who cares...it doesn't take a superman to realized that it is a luxury to be a stay at home mom...and that it is easier to hold down one job rather than 2 jobs...what about the parent who work 2 or 3 jobs and still come home to the demands of a house...in fairness i believe rosen is referring to the day to day struggles of the american people and families...okaaay!

    April 12, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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