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. Mr Owens

    Newsflash: Mrs. Romney is not running for office.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Jrl

      Yeah she is moron. You don't think Michelle Obama has an impact? Telling you what your kids can and cannot eat and filling schools with federal officers check packed lunches? Guess again. Obama's tyrannical reign is over and the left grows more desperate by the day

      April 13, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • electrovibe11

      Then tell Mitt to stop using her as his resident women's study expert. She wouldn't even be talked about if he hadn't thrusted her into the spotlight as a champion for women's issues.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  2. CB

    Mitt Romney never said Ann is her economic advisor. Through the campaign stops and meeting with working or stay at home women Ann hears about the challenges they face and issues they go through every day in their lives. This information she relays to Mitt. I don't understand what's wrong with that. If anything that provides any candidate a first hand, close up, unadulterated and real perspective on the issues facing many men and women in this country. I don't see how it matters if they are rich or poor, privileged or otherwise. Don't you think it's a better pulse of how the economy is impacting people's lives. Or would we be better off only listening to Washington policy makers and stats like unemployments numbers etc which is anyway not an accurate number. Go back 4 years and if you listen to what Obama, Clinton or for that matter any candidate said in almost every speech. It was about meeting, talking and listening to people from around this country and their struggles- rich and poor, small and big business.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  3. SO

    It is fair to say Mrs. Romney is a wonderful mother, the Obama's have not said a bad word of her and I hope she has nothing negative to say about the First Lady.
    But for a man to cling onto a wife that hasn't gone out and worked and paid taxes, and can make some thought to her being something more that 99.99% of all of America's ladies, he has stirred this up himself.
    There is nothing wrong with lifting your wife up just don't lie about.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  4. Pete

    That's asinine how the righteous rightwingers think a multimillionaire,one who's never got his or her hands DIRTY can actually relate to the typical American.She having cancer ,I can tell you she had the best oncologists in the world working for her .She probably had her treatments done right at the house,its easier for her,everything is mobile.Her nannies and maids watched the kids while she had her chemotherapy or x-ray treatments ,which left her sick and extremely tired.Most of your AVERAGE AMERICAN CITIZENS are at the breaking point financially from cancer,its a very expensive disease to fight against.Romneys nevered struggled that way,so don't expect tears from one who actually knows,from actually experiencing the financial hardships related with this dreadful disease.They can't relate to balancing a budget,between filling the gas tank for work or feeding your kids,a fact felt everyday nationwide.They now send out their surrogate mouthpieces,their sons ,to try to squash the negetivity related to their 1% life style.They can't hide the fact they actually don't know the price of gas because more than likely they have the help put gas in their cars.They can't relate to the average citizen struggling to pay their monthly health insurance premiums,they have personal health perfessionals on call 24/7 a common fact with the rich and famous,nothing to good for them.So don't give us,the AVERAGE AMERICAN CITIZEN this BS about the struggles of the UPPER CLASS.Romneys not one of us,he never was,he's just an arrogent rich kid trying to buy the seat at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for a couple of years.Just bragging rites at the local country club,real sickening someone buying his political way to the presidency,real sad...

    April 13, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  5. A News Reader

    Great Job C N N! You have managed to make a news story by covering something that was created by your own news organization, just to create an entire news story out what people said about your news about your news.

    Readers, please try to remember a time when the news actually covered events that happened around the world. Remember a time when C N N and most other news organizations actually covered news, instead of contorting the views of their own contributors to tell you what is important and how to interpret it? Well those days are long gone. While this is gaining huge news coverage on C N N and all of the other news sources, there are huge issues going on throughout the world left unknown to the American public. How about looking at the temporary peace going on in Syria, how about looking at the attempted and actual coups going on in West Africa, how about looking at the extreme climate issues facing the mid-Atlantic and Southwest US right now?

    Again, if you go to any non-newspaper source of news in the United States, prepare to watch a media circle j * rk where one station will create each news story out of coverage of a news station's interpretation of a story.

    Great Job C N N, please continue to keep America ignorant of actual news!

    April 13, 2012 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      Hello, thanks for your comment. This is a blog post intended to give back to our reader community and to provide a place for people to have discussions about relevant topics. It does not pretend to be a news story in the traditional sense, and the editor's note at the top explains this. CNN covers all kinds of things, including the things you mentioned in your post. I invite you to read these posts and join in the community, because there is a lot we can learn from one another.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • lisa2010

      why are you at the cnn sight, if you don't like the type of news they give... i say, you have a choice and go on to fox sight YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE HERE,!!!!! GET OUT AND PUT YOUR COMMENTS ON ANOTHER SIGHT!!!! NOBODY WANTS YOUR COMMENTS HERE!!!!

      April 13, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  6. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    @ Pete, 9:41 AM:
    Are you saying that the person most ideally suited to the presidency would be a relatively unskilled labourer who has made his hands very dirty, pumps his own gas expertly, has trouble paying his bills, and has not been able to afford the best medical care for himself and his family?
    Such a person could easily identify with the many unsuccessful citizens of the USA.
    Are you saying that such a dirty-handed worker would do a good job of leading our country?

    April 13, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Wow, way to act elitist yourself and insult a vast majority of the country.

      Your opinion is now null and void as we know you are an elitist tool and you yourself obviously has never had it hard...that or you are a severe apologist for the right wing out of touch....

      April 13, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      @Joey,no ,just one who's more grounded then the rich righteous right,who believes in a 2 tiered system.The 1%ers,the ones Romney throws in our face and brags about like himself,and the typical 99%ers,possibly You and I ,if You fit in that category.He's said he struggled in a $50 a month basement room,not likely for long,I assure ya.His father the CEO of American motors made plenty of money before leaving for politics in the 60's,remember the governor of Michigan,then the run for president,that didn't pan out.He ,Mitt,didn't struggle like people of today .He throws statements about betting Santorum,a man on a shoe string budgeted campaign $10,000,like its chicken feed.Hes arrogent and thinks his money will buy him the political clout,even the seat at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for 4years.So don't preach to me about the struggles of his ,when its pretty obvious that you might be infatuated with his 1%ers life style.I bet his kids had private schools or teachers and he most certainly wouldn't let them go off to war,even though he acts like a war monger himself,telling countries like Russia,they're our number one foe.PleaseRomney,speak more discretely because people believe in your maniacal messages and take them to heart literally.It's scary having a person vying for such a high position ,making such assinine statements,without cleary using proper judgement.If you read these blogs like I do,you'll see the political sheep clearly running their mouths before clearly evaluating the facts.I do a great amount of reading,political and not,and am apalled at some of these rebuttels.I also pay at a 30% tax rate as a retired union welder,a cancer survivor ,a 99%er and can't see how a man who's clearly taking advantage of the tax system at 14% is ideal for the respected position of president,who everyone will look up to for 4years for leadership,that's my reasoning, ya like it or not..

      April 13, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  7. evis nash

    Mitt Romney and his wife they don't. Know. About. Suffer , about been with out job , been straggle day by day. So Romney you can't be. The president of. United State Of america Sorry. Sorry. Eromney

    April 13, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

      @ evil bash 10:02 AM;
      You are a troll. This creation is worthy of PED, the Maker of Ahlmed.
      Nobody writes in English as badly as you pretend to do.
      Of course, no person who wrote that way would have a job.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  8. Nothiga

    The fact is that Ann can never bridge the gap Rmoney has with women.
    Rmoney himself has said he will scrap Planned Parenthood.
    Rmoney openly supported the GOP sponsored Blunt amendment which is anti-contraceptive.
    Rmoney also wants to abolish the Roe vs Wade abortion law.
    Not to mention the repugnant anti-women laws sponsored by the GOP in several states.
    What else is war on women or what was he thinking?

    April 13, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      The right dont actually think...they curse logic and reasoning, rage against science...their sole propulsion behind their tactics is emotion and religion

      The two great things that brought you the crusades and the inquisition...something more than a few right wingers wouldnt mind reinstating.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • concernedjoy

      Did Romney actually say he wants to scrap Planned Parenthood, or not give taxpayer's money to their organization? I don't think Planned Parenthood is a government organization, so how could he "scrap" it? The way I understand it, most of their money comes from private donations, so let people who have no problem with them promoting abortion pay for it. I personally do not want my money supporting such an organization. Women will still be able to get whatever needs they require without taxpayers money.

      The Blunt Amendment is not anti-contraceptives! It just is an amendment that respects the rights of conscience with respect to specific items or services. Yes, some religious organizations do not believe in contraceptives or abortion, and they should not be forced to provide them to their employees. These employees knew all along these items are not covered – let them go to "Planned Parenthood".

      WHEN did Romney say he wanted to abolish Roe vs. Wade?

      I haven't heard of these anti-women laws. Enlighten me. What is THAT all about?

      April 15, 2012 at 5:00 am | Report abuse |
  9. David - a guy

    With all due respect, having specific a gender does not necessarily make you an expert on all issues for that gender. On the other hand, Romney is wise to point out that he has a subject-matter expert at his side that can give him insight on some of the more delicate issues that he personally cannot relate to. The thing to remember is, so do all the other candidates. There are issues that are gender-related that no amount of money can affect. These are the issues that Mrs. Romney can give non-biased advice on. But, anything that extreme wealth could ease would be out of touch. Some people have pointed out that she has MS and a cancer scare and that that makes her like the rest of American women. Well, no. She never had to decide whether or not to skip treatment so that her family could maintain their lifestyle, not go into bankruptcy, or not have to take out a second mortgage. She never had to check into a hospital knowing that she had no insurance and couldn't pay the bills that would come. She never had to call into work... again... because one of her kids were running a fever, knowing that this might be the last straw with her boss. These are the kinds of issues that Rosen was referring to.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  10. Dave

    This article is so bogus, because it assumes that the Obamas can relate. The Obamas are extremely wealthy also, and I'm not sure the average American can relate to Michelle and her continual trips around the world on taxpayer dollars. The media is completely biased. We'll see if this gets through their screening.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      I think its mostly because the right doesnt care about anyone BUT the rich...its not that they cant relate to the poorer americans, its because they just dont care about the poorer americans nor do they have any desire to do so.

      Ask Romney...he has already said he isnt concerned about the poor in america, just the rich and their tax breaks, loopholes, etc, etc, etc.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • lisa2010

      OBAMA hasn't hidden the fact that he's up there in the 1%, in fact he has mentioned it many times when he speaks about the Buffet Law, and he and others like Buffet should be taxed more, he hasn't hidden it, his money has been earned through the royalties of his books, he wasn't born with rich parents, in fact he was raised by his single mother and grandparents.. and his first job was at baskin robbins ice cream parlor here on the island of Oahu..he went to college on scholarships and a huge student loan both for him and michelle and took them many years to pay it off, besides raising two children, so i think, OBAMA IS IN TOUCH WITH THE AVERAGE AMERICAN CITIZENS STRUGGLES!!!!

      April 13, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • concernedjoy

      To Steve – how about commenting on the actual words Romney said? I heard that speech. Don't stop at "I don't care about the poor" (and I can say I cringed when he said that, since I knew it would be the only part of his speech that would be repeated). He said ""I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair , I'll fix it," "I'm not concerned about the very rich.... I'm concerned about the very heart of America, the 90 to 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling." I'm sick of the lies.

      April 15, 2012 at 5:07 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dave

    I would rather have a President that I believe will be successful in solving America's problems than a hollywood couple that wants to fundamentally transform our nation.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Typical right winger...I dont want progress, I want the same thing forever!

      Let the 50's reign!

      Gee, I bet you would love to go back to the 50's...women were barefoot and pregnant...minorities knew their frickin' place in the world...and gays just didnt exist...a republican paradise.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  12. jake106

    Oh for God's sake! Can someone name a Federal politician who CAN relate to the average family? Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich maybe...but the rest of them? Really?

    April 13, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  13. Rsprings

    I seriously do not feel that Obama has "related" to women any better than anyone else.. He panders to anyone he feels he needs to win. He blames te war on women on Republican..well he fired the first shot. Gov't cannot and should not provide everything for everyone. Those in need should get help. Those who can afford to purchase services should do so. As an example this contraception plan was ill conceived by Obama. Then they blame Republican and Religious organizations for objecting..Then they send Sandra Fluke a woman of privilege to defend it...how dumb and out of touch is that.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  14. charlie46

    Why don't you spend more time reporting on the weirdo Alan West, stating there are up to 81 Democratic Congressmen that are communist. That is more insulting to our country, than someone saying a rich woman never worked a day in her life.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jerubbaal

    It is shameful the way that Romney is attempting to use his wife to redeem himself with women. He put her view and opinion in a public position which are fair game for others to comment on. I applaud Ms Rosen and believe that what she did was BRILLIANT. She just marginalized Romney's biggest asset in his quest for redemption by contrasting her and her advantages with the everyday superwoman do it all mother. Seriously, what do you do with your time while the kids are at school, and the domestic staff is taking care of the household? It must be really taxing, no sympathy here!!

    April 13, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Jrl

      obama hasn't created a job in his life. Romney has created thousands at Bain. Did some companies fail why he was there? Sure, you can't save every company. But all of those "big profits" the left despises also went to cops and fire fighter unions, etc. who invest their pensions in companies like Bain. Get a clue about what made this country great liberals. Obama the great job slayer is finished

      April 13, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • HOWARD

      What a bunch of B.S. !!! So ... Rosen is a lesbian career woman, who is raising her children with another lesbian, while criticizing Mrs. Romney for devoting ALL her time to raising her children in a traditional home ??? Too bad we can't fast foward about 10 years, to see how screwed up Rosen's kids are going to turn out !!

      April 13, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • SPECTACULARRN

      i ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH YOU. MANY MOTHERS WOULD LOVE TO STAY HOME AND RAISE THEIR KIDS BUT THE ECONOMY AND DEAD BEAT FATHERS FORCE MANY WOMEN TO WORK TWO AND SOMETIMES THREE JOBS!!! MRS. ROMNEY IS FORTUNATE TO HAVE A CHOICE IN THIS MATTER AS SHE IS WEALTHY. I DON'T THINK ROSEN SHOULD HAVE APOLOGIZED.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
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