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. Andreas Britanica

    As far as I'm concerned, I don't expect a Presidential candidate to be able to intimately relate to my unique struggles. Does a physician need to have had my illness to know the cure? Certainly not. I just need to tell him/her where it hurts. Mitt doesn't claim that Anne understands the plight of every woman in America through her personal experience. What he suggests is that he counsels with her because he respects her and because she listens to women across the country and understands what women are most concerned about. He's saying that Anne is helping him to better understand "where it hurts" and that he can fix it. What more can we as Americans expect?

    April 14, 2012 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
    • NotanexpertbutIstayedHIexpress

      The doctor doesn't have to have the disease to know how to fix it, because he is an expert on the problem. It took lots of study and working in the field of medicine to gain that expertise. Now show me where Mitt's wife has studied and worked in the field of economics to gain her expertise?

      April 14, 2012 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
    • souptwins

      Notanexpert- Yes, Romney is an expect at how to take a company of the verge of collapse, analyze their assets and weakness, then restructure it to save it and turn it around. The US economy is just like this no and, in my opinion, could use a little "restructuring". Your question and the analogy is quite appropriate for Romney and the current election. Ann was relaying what she had learned from the myriad of women she'd talked to out on the campaign trail. It was never about her views or experience. It was those women who said they are most concerned about jobs and the economy.

      April 14, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ADub

    Lets just face it. Obama haters are just going to hate Obama, just like Bush haters hated Bush. Although I think the Bush haters had better reasons.

    April 14, 2012 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  3. Bill

    Anne is to rich to know what us hard working Americans go through 7 days a week. She lying and someone needs to call her out and not back down. MIT makes millions if dollars while so e families struggle while wife getting unemployment taking care if kids at home while looking for a decent job.

    April 14, 2012 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
    • souptwins

      Bill– exactly what makes you think Ann collects unemployment? That's just crazy talk!! Heck Mitt didn't even accept a salary when Gov. of MA or when leading the Olympics.
      I heard an interview with Ann Romney a few years ago about her college days with Mitt. They were both going to school and lived in student housing – tiny little place with cement floors. She pieced together a carpet out of scraps from dumpster diving. For a desk they used a wooden door on cinder blocks. I guess they have paid the price to get where they are. They didn't get help from their parents who would take them to dinner and say – how can you guys live like this? At Harvard, they lived in a basement apartment for $50/mo and had their first child. I'm pretty sure they remember those days and can "relate" just fine. They are at a very different stage of life than when they were raising their children.

      April 14, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Goya

    Honestly...what is 'the average family'? I have never met one. Now, to the question...it is absurd. How many of us truly KNOW what the Romneys life has been like? We take a snapshot of today and interpret an entire life by this one moment and dwell in ignorance and create our opinions based on that ignorance. How many of us truly have that in-depth knowledge of their inner most aspirations and day-to-day challenges- crap, with our divorce rate I think we often know nothing of the person beside us. As to a man seeking the advice of his wife (not sure an average family does that?) if president Obama sought information from Mrs. Romney would it somehow be more legitimate in purpose and scope as it is with any stranger who makes a statement in a 'town hall' style setting? How interesting how we limit the information of the world we wish tio understand while ensuring the information we accept keeps the world aorund us the same. I suppose that is us being 'average'...whatever that is.

    April 14, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  5. MollyBee

    I like Ann Romney. She seems like a nice person. Un fortunately, she will forever be known as "two cadillac Ann". Rosen's words should have been chosen more carefully but, in principle, she was right on target. The GOP would avoid a lot of consternation for itself IF it would stop trying to legislate their interpretation of MORALITY.

    April 14, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • rla

      REALLY the GOP notion of morality??? Wow -out of touch– as the democrats seek control of your health, your body your education and most other aspects of your life.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • souptwins

      The only person making a moral judgement here was Rosen by suggesting that being a stay at home Mom was not "work". She didn't say Ann had never been "employed", she said "never worked". Those are very different and what Rosen said was demeaning and insulting.

      April 14, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. James

    Hilary Rosen was telling the truth except she did not use the right words. Of course Ann Romney is a working woman but she cannot relate to women who have to work OUTSIDE the home because they need the money to survive, and still have to do everythng that Ann Romney is doing at home. And they do not have paid help.

    April 14, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Edith

      Women work. Some women are EMPLOYED and paid for their work. Women working as homemakers receive no pay and are not employees. The discussion would be much clearer if " work" and "employ" we're not interchangeable, synonymous terms. Romneys' view of women makes their relating to women impossible.

      April 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. EdR

    Can they relate? Sure, as well as other First Families who have been rich, but had a passionate care for the disadvantaged enough to serve them in their needs. Problem is that Hilary Rosen is two-faced. She hates the Romneys, but adores other wealthy Presidents because they were DEMOCRATS – Roosevelt, Kennedy come to mind. She is just another hypocritical party flack.

    April 14, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  8. FlotsamJetsam

    The article is about the Romneys not Obama so a bunch of these comments are just from haters and are irrelevant to the discussion.

    But the answer is yes they are completely out of touch as shown by these ridiculous comments that especially Mitt makes. (Ann makes some too)

    Sorry but you just get the opinion that Romney is out for himself. He and his millionaire NASCAR buddies and NFL team owners would get along just fine if he were to get elected. But Romney's big problem is the bulk of the Republican party stil can't stand him. How many primaries did Romney even get 50 %. So to think he can win the presidency is someone's wet dream.

    April 14, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • souptwins

      News flash– with 4 candidates or more, it's very tough to get more than 50%– even then, Romney did it a few times.
      Go ahead and find some guy from the corner diner to be Pres. if that will help you feel like he's "more like you". I think we can do better. Do we expect any candidate to have experienced every hardship there ever was so they can "relate"? It's impossible!! Being rich doesn't mean you're "out of touch" any more than being poor makes you compassionate. Romney didn't start out his adult life "rich". In fact he and Ann lived in a basement apartment for $50/mo while starting their family. I'm pretty they remember those days and can relate just fine!

      April 14, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. On StreetWise

    Sure, the Romney's relate... IF, you pay 15%, live in a gated (or three) community, ship jobs overseas and hid your cash in secret offshore account. They fit in just fine and comfortable.

    April 14, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. rla

    If you think a community organizer from Harvardf law relates to us than Romney will be a very pleasant surprise as he has actually worked!

    April 14, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tyler Anthony

    Mitt Romney is backed by the same big banks and corporate interest as Obama was back in 2008. Mitt Romney is in business to get elected by trying to appeal to voters by saying the "right stuff". Romney IS the new establishment candidate. Government and spending will continue to grow out of control under a Romney or Obama presidency.

    There is only one candidate out there that has been saying the same thing for 30+ years and doesn't pander to the crowds. His success is grossly under-reported, if not ignored, and he is constantly misrepresented by the media. This candidate will actually decrease our national debt. This candidate has more delegates than the media would report, and he continues to get delegates because his supporters understand the Primary/Caucus process. This candidate is one for peace and prosperity, and his name is Dr. Ron Paul.

    Evangelicals and former Santorum supporters, put your support behind Ron Paul! He is the only Pro-Liberty candidate and Veteran running for office! RON PAUL 2012!!!

    April 14, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. g.t.

    I i don't think the problem is what Ann understands and doesn't understand but to say you understand and then plan cut the support that many of these people you claim to understand need is contradictory. Explain how cutting Obamacare , without having a fix , or cutting funding to community based non profits who provide valuable services all because of your ideology will help women with families who are not rich to be better off? That is it. Unless Mitt is saying ' I understand but I am sorry' which is worth nothing.

    April 14, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. nobody important

    Unlike Obama, the Romneys never pretended to not have money. The president said last week "we didn’t have the luxury for her not to work," referring to a time when both the president and his wife were each making more than 90% of American households.

    And CNN thinks Romney is out of touch!?

    April 14, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. yobiyobi

    Who's your pick? http://bit.ly/yyyWwp

    April 14, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. CNNDebbie

    Can the Romney's relate? No. Can they have compassion? Yes. Can they have empathy? No. Mitt was born into wealth. He never has had to worry about a financial safety net. That is significant as Romney is supporting policy to reduce the safety net. Romeny says Ann is his closest advisor on women and the economy. Ann also was born into wealth just not as wealthy as Romney. The couple may have stayed in a basement and may have a strong work ethic but that is little insight in walking in the shoes of the average woman today. Ann equates raising children as a career. I do not think even a majority of women believe raising children is a career. I think most believe raising children is not easy but it is not easy working two jobs and raising children. Ann suffers from MS and she has had breast cancer. I can have compassion for Ann's MS. I feel for her but I've never had MS. I have empathy for Ann and breast cancer as I have been there. Ann has never had to worry about not having healthcare. She can have compassion for people who don't have healthcare but not empathy. This matters because Romney supports cutting healthcare. The Romney's have been successful and that is great but it is a question of can they relate and I think the answer is no. The Romney's may be very nice people but they are far from average and can have compassion but not empathy. Without walking in the shoes of the average American male or female sets the probability Romney's policies will be set upon his own understandings and life experiences and those may or may not be compassionate. I would say they are most likely very nice people but I would not vote for them as they don't even remotely represent me.

    April 14, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      well said

      April 14, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • dojo

      Very well said. I believe too that the Romneys (kids included) are nice people. And that they've gone thru their own types of struggles. But these are not the struggles of everyday Americans. No healthcare. Choosing what bills to pay because you can't afford all of them. For them that's all talk. Criticize Obama all you want but his policies are based on his experiences. Seeing his family members not have insurance. Pay crazy amounts in student loan debts. Working in the poorest of neighborhoods. Seeing how trickle down economics made the rich richer and the middle class and poor stagnant. A President needs to represent the people first. Not free enterprise, not conservatives or even liberals, but the people first. Bottom line, Obama has at least tried to at least do that.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
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