Democratic operative Hilary Rosen followed a written apology with an on-air apology for her choice of words about Ann Romney during a sometimes testy interview on Thursday with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
“I assume that Mrs. Romney saw my apology this afternoon, but if not, I apologize,” Rosen said when pressed by Blitzer to make her apology explicit. “Working moms, stay-at-home moms, they're both extremely hard jobs. I know, I've shared them both, and I'm sorry if I offended you.
“I should not have chosen words that seemed to attack Ann Romney's choice in life, and I apologize for that, but Ann Romney and Mitt Romney brought themselves into this conversation,” she said. “When he goes on the campaign trail and says she is his economic surrogate, when she goes ... and makes these points I'm not bringing them into this. Come on, that's a little too much. We know that they have brought themselves into this.”
Rosen nonetheless refused to back down from her critique of Romney’s record and called the controversy over her comments a distraction.
“I think (Romney) needs to stand up for women's economic struggles, and so far we have not seen how he's going to do that on the campaign trail,” Rosen said. “It hasn't come out of his mouth and maybe it will at some point, but this is a distraction that his campaign is forcing on the American people to avoid his record on the issues.”
Rosen’s mea culpa came less than 24 hours after she set off a furor by suggesting that the wife of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was ill-equipped to speak to women about their hardships.
“His wife has actually never worked a day in her life,” Rosen said in an interview on Wednesday. “She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids? How do we send them to school? And why we worry about their future.”
The backlash over the comments was quick and fierce. Ann Romney tweeted on Thursday morning, “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”
Rosen initially defended her comments, but later reversed her stance, issuing an apology to Romney in a statement on Thursday.
Democrats, too, quickly distanced themselves from Rosen’s comments, affirming their support for stay-at-home moms. Republicans meanwhile pounced on the opportunity to score points with women, a constituency that Romney is currently losing, according to recent polls.
The firestorm drew first lady Michelle Obama and former first lady Barbara Bush into the fray, both of whom said women who work inside and outside the home should be valued and appreciated.
“Women who stay home are wonderful. Women who go to work are wonderful. Whatever,” Bush said in an interview with Fox News, noting that she wasn’t criticizing Rosen. “But five boys is a handful, trust me. Raising George Walker was not easy.”
Rosen said she’s not taking the criticism over her remarks personally and that it is par for the course in the age of instant communication in campaigns.
“Everybody's words are parsed so carefully, and you know, I've clearly been on the other side where I've jumped on people's misstatements,” she said. “So I'm not claiming victim here.”