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. AG

    It is hard enough for superstars who come from meager backgrounds to still relate to their own humble beginnings. Romney's beginnings were neither meager, humble or anything resembling average. So lets be honest the man has no place to anchor himself in relation to the average American AND he's never attempted to. I challenge anyone who differs to show a video/picture of Romney doing, not just stroking a check, but doing community service.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mick

      You have NO idea how much community service Mitt or Ann Romney have done through their church. He served for over 10 years in ecclesiastical responsibilities taking care of all parts of Boston (including extremely poor areas) along with serving people in those areas. How can you possibly have any idea of his or her service record just because they have money. How foolish to judge without knowing, and even to judge with knowing.

      Just because someone's parents have money doesn't mean that the parents don't let the married kids go through some tough times on their own. AG, any woman with children works, whether she has money or not, because she is the one who took care of raising her children.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon Conde

      Why do you have to see a picture or a video? Not everyone is out to try to make a statement by photographing their service for all to see. There have been many articles written about Romney helping other and he also served as a clergy man in his church where he helped and counseled others (unpaid aka volunteer). Romney not only puts his money where his mouth is, he also puts his hands to work.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joe from Ohio

    This is HILARIOUS!! Fox news reported the Romney diss got more TWEETS than Justin Beiber yesterday.
    HOW CAN THEY STILL CALL THEMSELVES "NEWS"?

    April 13, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • BRAVO LADY

      they can call themselves what they want. I CAN CALL MYSELF MARTIAN TOO BUT THAT DOES NOT MAKE ME ONE

      April 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • candiLLL

      Fox News is All About GOPS Lies.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • candiLLL

      Why won't Ann Mitt Romney release their taxes to the Pubic?

      April 13, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Attila, The Hun

    The story has gotten out of control. The point was the Romney's are like us nor do they face the same challenges as average Americans. The other point is we do not want a president to be like us. If Romney was smart he would admit that, but try and convince people he will look out for the interests of everyone. I doubt that he can make that case, but at least it would a good place to start the discussion.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jules

      You are right, Atilla, Romney should just say, "I am not like you at all. I am able to pay all my bills every month, but don't have many because I am able to pay cash for my houses and my cars and, well, basically anything I want. I really don't have to worry about my kids or grandkids because I was able to set up millions of dollars (tax free) in trusts for them. I know some of you have to worry about having enough food in the house to last you until the next paycheck. I feel bad for you about that. Let's not even talk about losing a job and losing insurance or not being able to afford insurance – I used to feel bad about people having these kinds of issues and tried to do something about it – but I have changed my mind – if you can't afford to carry insurance for you and your family, you deserve what you get and yes, that might mean you and or one of your family members have to die. I have money and you don't and that just the way it is."

      April 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • mary J

      Oh, you mean shake his etch a sketch? snicker. snicker. just do not forget how he treated shamus

      April 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MeMelvin

    There is a gap in the understanding of what the majority of American women suffer through and what Mrs. Romney has had to suffer through, My empathy and sympathy go out to all women.

    The error in this case was the Romney political machine trying to sell Mrs. Romney's suffering as equal to other American women.

    Mrs. Romney is to be respected for her personal trials with health and rearing five children, Other than that, there is no common denominator.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. jimtanker

    The simple fact is that she HASN'T worked a day in her life. She is not a "stay at home mom". She pays someone to take care of her kids and goes out shopping. The rich cant relate to what it means to be a "real" American.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • A Real American

      I really resent the suggestion that Mitt & Ann Romney can not relate to me. I am expecting my 7th child I have a bachelors degree... I have always been a STAY AT HOME MOM since my oldest child (age 17) was born. My husband has 2 bachelors degrees & an MBA and thanks to Obama's economy my husband has 3 jobs, went without a job for 18 months, and now has ... With his 3 jobs an income of less than $45,000.00 a year for our family of 9. We have our own health insurance, receive NO government assistance, and are small business owners!!!!!!! I believe Mitt & Ann Romney understand my situation completely and Mitt Romney is my ONLY Hope of getting back the Real American Dream !!!!!!

      April 13, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2

      @ A real Amerirican:
      Blaming Obama for the current economical climate is erroneous. Why did you husband lose his job? Outsourcing, perhaps? Who do you think is the king of that? Hint: it's NOT Obama.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. candiLLL

    What A elite white women with lot of options

    April 13, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. AG

    Thanks Mick "Mitt or Ann Romney have done through their church"...as I said, not counting the checks they've written, has anyone borne witness to Mitt actually DOING community service – serving food, sorting goodwill clothes, building a habitat home, etc. That was my question. Mine. My hunch is no...I'm glad to be proven wrong if you have proof. Nothing wrong with being rich. We've had rich Presidents before..Teddy R. Jack Kennedy come to mind. But they had experiences that linked them to common man – war or starting the Peace corp (or in Jack's case both) and fought for common man ideals
    The only "common" man thing Romney did was RomneyCare and he won't touch it with a 10ft. pole. Pre-existing condition clauses save people. Now he says "I like to fire people" – in context, he meant healthcare companies not providing good services. Even that is out of touch. Only someone with money can be so flippant about firing one healthcare company for another. How easy would be for the average American to do the same?

    April 13, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bobby

      AG, you have a very interesting perspective on the average American. I certainly don't see the average person "serving food, sorting goodwill clothes, building a habitat home, etc." That paints a very romantic picture and all but the country doesn't need a a new manager at the local youth ranch. Why do you put so much emphasis on Romney's exposure to that faction(the one I am currently in btw)? You qualify his charity and volunteering with your personal values instead of respecting someone's devotion and hard work. As for you remark "How many did not survive due to lack of adequate healthcare." The standard treatment for breast cancer, the treatment she received btw, is available to any woman with that terrible illness. Survival is based on stage of the disease, not income. Disappointing that you would cite her survival in any sort of negative light.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Seamus D. Dog

    I was there, Ann Romney had Romneycare for her cancer, woof

    April 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. crzhrs

    While any stay-at-home Mom has lots of work it DOES make a difference if you have financial security knowing that there will be food on the table, the utilities will be paid, you will have the BEST HEALTH CARE, you home won't be foreclosed, you can afford $4/gal gas to drive around in two Caddilacs, and with all that wealth the decision to be a stay-at-home Mom is a lot easier knowing you will not want for anything. Even if you do have a serious disease, you know you will have the BEST HEALTH CARE to help you through it. And if you can afford to have cleaning help 1 day a week or more as AR does . . . well, I can see why AR's decision to be a stay-at-home Mom was so easy!

    April 13, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Small business man

      i agree with you crzhrs, the Mitts are rich cool, the problem isn't money,the problem is the views that this rich guy has. His wife is his go too for what the average woman is going thru, get real! when she was in school and they where living in a basement apt, did she work, did he? He has always been out of touch, i mean for Gods sake he prays to some guy from utah as God, should i go on?

      April 13, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. AG

    Oh Mick...let's be clear raising children is work. But being a mother and raising your children, does NOT alone qualify you to speak for the average woman. Ann Romney is unbudgeted and has been for decades, how many mothers – with MS and Breast Cancer can say that? How many did not survive due to lack of adequate healthcare. You must go deeper than that and that is where Romney made his mistake. He is insular, he does not come down from his ivory tower and from all of the gaffes and public awkwardness in the primaries this much is obvious. Why argue it? I am sure he is a nice man, but he has shown again, how shallow he is. If you want to understand the average woman you must 1st be able to recognize that your wife can not be THE lens through which you view women's issues. That sort of shortsighted perspective is not a good quality for a President, I don't care how good of a businessman he is....I'll stick with the community organizer.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • 3

      *Applause*

      April 13, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Small business man

      Great! Common sense will always win out! Way to go AG!

      April 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mary J

    and for all those people who say our potus is not a family man and never worked a real job. au contrare. there is no greater nor more difficult one than the one he currently has.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Small business man

      I Agree mary j, and last time i checked being a lawyer was job,one that took long hrs and hard work. Having a rich Dad and rich business partners telling you lets take over this company fire a cpl hundred people,send some of the jobs over seas and we are rolling in the doe, oh let us not forget this "strong american" sending his money over seas so the banks there can make money off his intrest, who wants this corporate raider as potus?

      April 13, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mary 930

    Romney is just like George Bush. Both didn't fight in war because both had rich dads. Romney spent that time in France learning how to speak French. Romney's sons have not been in the service. Why? Because they have a rich dad.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Numyorangay

    Are there any photos of the Romneys touching or even being near minorities?

    April 13, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. pjoe

    Overheard at CNN ... "how can we make Romney look out of touch?"

    April 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • 13

      He does a fabulous job of that all on his own.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Small business man

      all you have to do is record him, i mean the man has a lobbyist working to spend pass the people who have to wait in line to get ANOTHER house built, after tearing the one down thats already there because its not big enough,what a joke. Doing all of this while running for the potus, with issues like forclosure, jobs , and over all money issues beating the common man into the ground. Cnn needs to do nothing to show mitt for what he is,out of touch, he will not be running a company, he will be running a nation....HUGE difference!

      April 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Duel Chavez

    It's a shame to pick on Mrs. Romney or call her out on any of this (with regards to what women go through). She supports her man and stand beside him on his career choice of politics (of all things). He could be a CEO of any corporation in this country or Europe, which would give them more privacy, not to mention be more financially lucrative for him. He chooses public office perhaps for his ego. Good for him and good for her.
    The concern shouldn't be what she has or hasn't experienced, the concern should be as to the nature of this man who will hold the most powerful office in the free world with regards to to his stance, not hers, on Iran, Iraq, Saudi oil and their influence on the US economy; our deficit problems and what we borrow from China. His views on not only the working women and their freedom to regulate and control their reproductive choices; but also on the working class which suffers and diminishes under this jobless recovery. The focus should be on Mitt Romney and what kind of a President he would make, after all it's his finger which will pull the triger on our military if he decides to send us to war, not hers.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • ARALE NORIMAKI

      whenever the wife of a politician, very few of them actually work for a living. "Hilary Rosen was talking about economic issues" Ann Romney is different from other stay-at-home Moms. other stay at home mom can't afford to go back to work sending there child to daycare is a lot of money.Romney and Ryan’s plans focus on block granting. But you can’t go to the Congressional Budget Office, say you’re going to ask states to spend money on your behalf, and walk out with a prize for deficit reduction. So in the Romney and Ryan proposals, the grants to states would grow much more slowly than the programs’ projected costs. Medicaid, for instance, would see its budget increase at the rate of inflation, not at the rate of health-care costs. The question is whether these programs can spend much less without hurting the people who depend on them.states use about 30 percent of their block grants to fund basic assistance — what most of us would think of as “welfare.” An additional 15 percent goes to subsidized child care. Eleven percent goes to work supports. And the other 44 percent? Miscellaneous other things, including closing state budget holes. The end result is that fewer families get welfare. That’s not a “reform.” It’s a cut.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2LiveJew

      If you are middle-class to poor and/or like to party then no, she can't imagine your life. I'm glad that only covers about 75% of us.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Attila, The Hun

      If you are dumb enough to believe his wife does not have vast sway over his thinking or even worse that she worships and obeys his every command your head is so far up your anus as to be beyond hope.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
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