Democratic Strategist Apologizes for Comment About Ann Romney
Washington -- A Democratic strategist apologized Thursday for a comment questioning Ann Romney's qualifications to advise her husband on women's economic issues, while the Romney campaign sought to exploit the controversy to help fix a gender gap problem in the race against President Barack Obama.

Hilary Rosen issued a statement after fellow Democrats, including a Twitter post on Michelle Obama's page, criticized her remarks the night before on CNN.

"I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended," said the statement by Rosen, who is a CNN contributor. "Let's declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance."

In a later interview on CNN, Rosen said she "should not have chosen words that seemed to attack Ann Romney's choice in life" and that she hoped Mrs. Romney "understands I didn't mean it personally," adding "I was trying to talk about economic issues."

"This is going to be an ugly campaign season," Rosen told CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

On Wednesday night, Rosen said on CNN's "AC360" that Mitt Romney shouldn't be relying on his wife for guidance on economic issues affecting women.

"What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country, saying, 'Well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues, and when I listen to my wife, that's what I'm hearing,' " Rosen said. "Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life."

Rosen continued by saying Ann Romney had "never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing, in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and why do we worry about their future."

The strategist, speaking Thursday night on "AC360," said a debate over economic stances of the candidates is more important than the firestorm over her remarks.

"The idea that I would create a division between stay-at-home moms and working moms is just silly. That has nothing to do with what I said," Rosen told Anderson Cooper.

She also said she is not an adviser to the White House or the Democratic National Committee.

Republicans slammed Rosen's comments as disparaging to stay-at-home mothers, and top Democrats, including Obama and his chief campaign adviser, also chimed in.

On Thursday, Twitter posts attributed to Michelle Obama and Democratic National Committee head Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz took exception with Rosen's remarks.

"Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected," the first lady tweeted.

Ann Romney told Fox News earlier Thursday that raising five boys was hard work, and she hears from women all the time about economic difficulties they face.

"Look, I know what it is like to struggle," said Romney, a cancer survivor who has multiple sclerosis. "If maybe I haven't struggled as much financially as some people have, I can tell you and promise you that I have had struggles in my life. And I would love to have people understand that Mitt and I have compassion for people that are struggling and that's why we are running. We care about those people that are struggling and we recognize that this economic recovery has been very weak."

The imbroglio occurred as the November presidential race took shape this week, with conservative challenger Rick Santorum suspending his campaign to make Mitt Romney the certain Republican nominee against Obama.

With polls repeatedly showing female voters favoring Obama over the former Massachusetts governor, Romney launched a harsh attack Wednesday on how the administration's economic policies hurt women.

Rosen's comments Wednesday night provided another opening for the Romney campaign, which made top surrogates available for a conference call with reporters Thursday to discuss the issue.