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. tedt

    Robmey does not know his head from his ass. Talks cheap

    April 13, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. Carla Nelson

    I knew what Rosen was trying to say. I do understand even though our trials and tribulations or different, but with that being said and done Anne Romney nver had to worry about is her Day Care going to be cut. Or am I going to get my child support check on time. I betcha any money her gas and electric bill has never been cut off. The only thing about it is that when you have money you can pay folks to be bothered with your children pay someone to take them to the zoo. All these Republican women are coming out all Obama people needs to ask them is that have you ever had to use Planned Parent hood for any services. Now if the answer is no then thats okay but I'm sorry to say that many woman do not have the expeirence to be CEO of a Company. All Obama has to to do is ask this womwn do they belive in defunding Planned Parent hood. Their are people who have good jobs but still can't afford health care.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • souptwins

      So why diminish Ann Romney for doing things the traditional way? Why are we not saying?- Isn't it great she was able to do this and getting a good education. Sacrificing when you're young really pays off later. She married an ambitious smart guy who spent 4 yrs. getting 2 graduate degrees while having a child and living in a basement apartment. They didn't start out smart and are at a very different stage in life than they were in when they were raising their children. Josh Romney was interviewed last night and said they never had outside help such as nannies. Just one woman came for about an hour once a week to help clean. Now that's lavish (sarcasm). Why are we vilifying someone for having a good life financially but difficult challenges with health?

      April 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • souptwins

      Oops guess I need to proofread better. should say "didn't start out rich" haha

      April 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. rosethornne

    Nobody sensible would dispute that stay at home parenting is work.
    However, Ann Romney has never been employed outside the home a day in her life, which is the obvious meaning of what Hillary Rosen said.
    And, the reason Ms Rosen made any comment at all, was Mitt 'I'm a real boy' Romney referenced Mrs Romney as his source of
    information on the economy's impact on working women.
    This kind of faux poutrage, deliberately taking a statement and twisting it out of all recognition, is a specialty of the recent republican party. Case in point, a commenter criticized Sarah Palin's policies using a VERY COMMON saying, essentially that trying to cover up the ugliness of the policies was like 'putting lipstick on a pig'. This very common saying means that a shiny pretty outside cannot hide a rotten core; it's similar to the saying that should be familiar to bible thumpers: 'whited sepulche', it had nothing to do personally with Palin, only her ugly hateful policies. Cue the poutrage, 'how dare you call her a pig'. So it was with the Ann Romney comment, whete tbe speaket used 'work' as shorthand for being gainfully employed outside the home. Could Ms Rosen have used clearer language – of course she could. She could have been less centered in her own life experience and more sensitive to the completely valid choices of others. This lack of clarity, however, does not negate the validity of her point: Ann Romney does not share the life experience of women struggling financially with career issues in the current economy

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

      Amen Brother!!!!! Or Sister, basically, Uh hu....

      April 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • souptwins

      But she didn't say "paying job". she said "never worked a day in her life". Those are two very different things.
      Ann Romney was reporting on what she had heard from the myriad of women she'd talked to on the campaign trail. That's perfectly appropriate and had nothing to do with her personal experiences. Isn't that what we hope all politicians do?– talk to people everywhere and listen to their experiences so you can respond to it.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. rosethornne

    Nobody sensible would dispute that stay at home parenting is work.
    However, Ann Romney has never been employed outside the home a day in her life, which is the obvious meaning of what Hillary Rosen said.
    And, the reason Ms Rosen made any comment at all, was Mitt 'I'm a real boy' Romney referenced Mrs Romney as his source of
    information on the economy's impact on working women.
    This kind of faux poutrage, deliberately taking a statement and twisting it out of all recognition, is a specialty of the recent republican party. Case in point, a commenter criticized Sarah Palin's policies using a VERY COMMON saying, essentially that trying to cover up the ugliness of the policies was like 'putting lipstick on a pig'. This very common saying means that a shiny pretty outside cannot hide a rotten core; it's similar to the saying that should be familiar to bible thumpers: 'whited sepulche', it had nothing to do personally with Palin, only her ugly hateful policies. Cue the poutrage, 'how dare you call her a pig'. So it was with the Ann Romney comment, whete tbe speaket used 'work' as shorthand for being gainfully employed outside the home. Could Ms Rosen have used clearer language – of course she could. She could have been less centered in her own life experience and more sensitive to the completely valid choices of others. This lack of clarity, however, does not negate the validity of her point: Ann Romney does not share the life experience of women struggling financially with career issues in the current economy, and is not qualified to advise on economic policies.
    Why doesn't Mitt just ask real women questions if he wants to know something? Can it be that he is afraid of exposing his own ignorance and utter out-of-touchness??

    April 13, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  5. rosethornne

    – excuse double post, sorry –

    April 13, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • trish

      Your response was WONDERFUL!!! I wish we could get this word out there. Romney cares nothing about women. I appreciate you for expressing the message so elloquently. thanks

      April 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
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    What a great post! Thanks for sharing it! Cheers!

    April 13, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. Lizzie

    Hillary Rosen apologizes for her remarks, stating lets stop this PHONY war, has she forgotten who started this PHONY WAR. Being a democratic strategist and working with David Axelrod, this was a calculated statement by Rosen to attack and see what sticks.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  8. Babe

    I have been astonished at the firestorm brought on by Hilary Rosen’s comments. And yet it should not have surprised me because the way things work these days it seems that if any comment can be distorted to suit partisan politics, then it is, and all hell breaks out. And this is what happened with a comment that was in fact quite benign. Ms. Rosen noted that Romney had designated his wife to tell him of women’s concerns, and Rosen wondered how she could since she has never worked. That is a fact. Not an insult. And yet it was quickly turned into an insult. The comment did not demean motherhood (I believe Rosen is herself a mother).

    What I believe the comment was about was how Anne Romney does not represent the average woman in any way, not only because she does not work (and we all know that “work” was meant to signify being on someone’s payroll or owning one’s own business). Motherhood, difficult as it is, has nothing to do with this particular issue. Mrs. Romney has never had to punch a clock, keep a budget, or do any one of the usual things most women in today’s society have responsibility for.

    In addition, their fortune has cushioned her life, and I very much doubt that she has to do her own cleaning, cooking, or any other chore she does not care to do. It is sad that she has had serious health problems, and the MS is more serious than the cancer. But their money has brought her the top health care that can be gotten in this country (and probably in the world). I know for a fact that she has been under the care of the very best, and that is wonderful, but I don’t know whether that makes her sympathetic to women who have no access, no health care, and no money to do much of anything about serious illness they may contract. Especially if Romney were to have his way about abolishing both the Affordable Health Care Act and Planned Parenthood (and probably Medicaid, which he said the “states could take care of”).

    I wonder whether Romney owes the women of this country an apology for daring to suggest that the wife of a billionaire with absolutely no work history outside the home could report on what women in this country want. http://barbaraspen.blogspot.com

    April 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • BRAVO LADY

      BRAVO!!!

      April 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • souptwins

      Actually, she DID do all her own cooking, cleaning, and raising of her children. Josh Romney was interviewed last night on Pierce and said they never had outside help in the home. He said the most they ever had was one woman who came for about an hour once a week to help clean. That's it!

      April 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • R

      Brava! Well said.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mdturn1

    This is completely, utterly, ridiculous .... The Issue here is ROMNEY the Husband and his backing by his Billionaire buddies who want to protect their financial interests. Let's Not Get DISTRACTED ... This is abouts acts of disperation to get the support of voting WOMEN. Obama has EARNED the support of women ... This is why he leads in the polls

    April 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jason

    Romney wont be able to beat the President this election. We need someone who doesnt take special interest money and gets thousands of people to come to his speeches. can you imagine if Romney got a crowd of 10,000? it would be all over the news. The reality is you have to be corrupt to make it in politics. Its a shame that they dont mention the real champion of liberty. In the latest poll he beats the president if the election were held today. America needs a Doctor!

    April 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bettyboop

    Romney is already making the big mistake McCain did in the 08 election. He thought Palin would win over disgruntled women voters over Hilary to his side. I believe I read a lot of posts from angry women that his move was not only a ticked them off, he must have thought women were stupid to fall for that act. Likewise, with Romney. His wife does not have and never will have any idea what a woman of the real world must go through daily to run a household and provide for her family. She cannot, in my opinion, relate to a stay at home mother who must do everything for her family herself instead of calling on the servants. Get real! We are not stupid Romney! Women have a voice, and we will be heard. Don't play to us, it will burn you in the long and short run!

    April 13, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jennifer

    I feel that the real inadequacy of the Romney family is not their wealth, but the fact that they have 5 Adult sons and not a single one inlcuding their father and grandfather on (Romney's side) have ever severed their country. And yet Romney thinks he is qualified to be the commander in chief and send our soldiers overseas to die in pointless illegal undeclared wars.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. chicagorockson

    well what do the obamas know about hard struggles lets not talk about how easy they had things oh yes i forgot how hard it must to live off $400,000 a year yeah they were really hurting please give me a break you over the top democrates your saviour is going down he cant run on his record so he has to divide the country trying to bring back racisism to full stregnth waht a sad president he will go down as one of the worst presidents in history

    April 13, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • G

      The Presidential salary is $400,000 a year, no matter the party affiliation of said President.
      Quite simply, that means if YOUR savior gets elected, he recieves the same pay.
      What a silly alliteration.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. F

    Can the Romney's relate to the average family?
    Short answer: no.
    But then I do not think any politician can, not anymore.
    And yes, I include the Obamas in that statement.
    To get where they are, they have to suspend many beliefs.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • souptwins

      sorry but this country is great BECAUSE of our differences not IN SPITE of them. We all live different lives and this war being waged by comparing hardships is just ridiculous. The Romney's didn't start out rich, had NO inheritance, worked their way through college, and raised a productive family with NO domestic help. These are the facts and even if they are wealthy now, I'm sure that wasn't the case living in a basement apartment starting their family. Ann Romney was reporting back on what the myriad of women she'd talked to on the campaign trail had said mattered to them. What she report was based on THEIR experiences NOT hers. Perfectly appropriate!

      April 13, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Apperently

      You did not read beyond the first sentence of the above post.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Alecia of Denver

    Does one demographic really matter more than the other?

    We are all Americans. Together we face these troubled economic times and uncertain future–the reality is simply that we each bring a different perspective.

    I am sick of the divisiveness and branding of classes and demographics. If Ann Romney was able to stay at home with her kids, it was her right and choice–it shouldn't brand her perspective as irrelevant.

    Furthermore, if Mitt and Ann Romney were blessed with financial stability due to his hard work and successes, it should not brand them as having an irrelevant voice with an "un-American" perspective.

    The Left's branding of the Romneys in this way is intolerable.

    Blatant attempts to pander and divide us should be stopped. It doesn't feel American.

    I am woman. I am a mom, but above all, my voice and perspective matter because I am an American. Period.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • sonny chapman

      Who do you think invented Wedge Politics ? Nixon in 1968. Who do you think perfected it into a take-no-prisoners style of politics? Lee Atwood/George H.W. Bush & then Karl Rove/George W. Bush.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jules

      And I'll bet as a proud American you keep your money in banks right here in America.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maggie

      I agree with you 100%. Just because the Romney's have money does not make them any different from me and you in the sense they still get sick, they still hurt and they are human beings with feelings. Romney was not born into money...he made it the American way and that is by hard work which I know quite alot of you out there don't know what that means because you rely on handouts. It seems that the American dream is no longer something to work towards anymore but instead government handouts seems to be the new norm. We cannot allow our great country and its people became complacent and lose that incentive to go out there and work hard to make a good living. Government handouts is definitely a no-no.....come on people lets get this country back on track by voting out Obama in November-12. Lets gets our dignity back and work to get America back to its prosperous ways.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • *Y*

      His father was born poor, but Mitt was absolutely born into money.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • mary J

      I really liked what you were saying. but there is one thing you said that makes me wonder about your total sincerity:
      The left is causing this divide. or words to that affect. Many many people who are not from the right in political thinking also feel the way you do. Please do not paint us all with the same brush. btw, Hillary Rosen, if you read everything she said, you would realise she was not impuning Mrs. Romney. Not at all. This whole issue of what women think is important was caused by mr. romney himself.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • WE the PEOPLE

      I'm not concerned about the rich nor do I feel sorry for them, but I am concerned about the mislead and weak minded.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
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