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OP-ED | Ann Romney Still Doesn’t Get It

by Sarah Darer Littman | Apr 27, 2012 4:44pm
(15) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Opinion

On Monday, Ann Romney addressed the Prescott Bush dinner to proclaim her “I’m just folks” credentials. “I know what it’s like to finish the laundry and to look in the basket five minutes later and it’s full again,” Romney said. “I know what it’s like to pull all the groceries in and see the teenagers run through and then all of sudden all of the groceries you just bought a few hours ago are gone. … I know what it’s like get up in the middle of the night when they’re sick And I know what it’s like to struggle and to have those concerns that all mothers have.”

But Mrs. Romney and all the Republicans who gave her a standing ovation, are conveniently choosing to miss the point. No one doubts Mrs. Romney understands what it’s like to be a mother. It’s what it’s like to be an ordinary mother, one who doesn’t have resources, who struggles and has to make choices every single day that she doesn’t really get.

For example, here’s Mrs. Romney in a 1994 interview with the Boston Globe, speaking of her student years at BYU:

“They were not easy years. You have to understand, I was raised in a lovely neighborhood, as was Mitt, and at BYU, we moved into a $62-a-month basement apartment with a cement floor and lived there two years as students with no income…We were happy, studying hard. Neither one of us had a job, because Mitt had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a time. The stock came from Mitt’s father. … Mitt cashed it so we could live and pay for education.”

So while the Romneys had to rough it in a neighborhood that was somewhat less lovely than they were used to, they didn’t have to take out student loans in order to get an education, or work and study at the same time in order to pay for expenses. Mrs. Romney’s hard times consisted of living in a “tiny” apartment without “money to carpet the floor” and forcing her to glue remnants together for carpeting. Oh, the horror. The horror.

Mrs. Romney went on to discuss tough times while her husband attended Harvard Law School: “Mitt was still in school and we had no income except the stock we were chipping away at. We were living on the edge, not entertaining.”

Oh the poor, poor dear, having to give up entertaining and dip into capital to “survive.” It must have been so terribly frightening to live “on the edge” like that.

Mrs. Romney is, by all accounts, a warm and loving mother and I admire the way she has faced not just one but two medical conditions (breast cancer and multiple sclerosis) with dignity and grace.

But can we get real? She had, and continues to have distinct advantages in her struggles over the average woman. For example, she’s never had to worry about losing her home (or any of the multiple homes the Romney’s own) or to face personal bankruptcy as a result of out-of-pocket medical expenses. Two such major medical conditions, even with insurance, could cripple an ordinary family. Mrs. Romney’s also never had to worry about her medical insurance being rescinded. I lost sleep about that every year at renewal prior to the passage of the Health Care Act last year, and now Mrs. Romney’s husband has made a pledge to repeal it. Mrs. Romney finds “joy therapy” for her MS symptoms in dressage, a sport where an inexpensive horse is over $20,000. It’s hard to find the joy in anything when you’re choosing between paying the mortgage or the hospital bills. That’s something that no matter how nice a person she might be, Ann Romney -  and her husband - just don’t seem to get it.

Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning novelist of books for teens. Long before the financial meltdown, she worked as a securities analyst and earned her MBA in Finance from the Stern School at NYU

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(15) Comments

posted by: shinningstars122 | April 28, 2012  10:04am


She shoots and scores! It is quite distressing when undecided voters think that millionaires can honestly empathize and relate to the day to day struggles of the middle and working class people of our country and fight for our best interests.

posted by: SJAY | April 28, 2012  12:59pm

I couldn’t have said it better, Sarah.

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | April 28, 2012  1:43pm


I think the Romney’s get it. RomneyCare is so named for a reason. Passed and implemented in 1 year. Quick. Efficient. GOP like.

OTOH the guy in the White House says all the right things but didn’t send a constitutional bill to Congress. ObamaCare will be a mess later this Summer—an ongoing 4 year disaster of maladministration.

posted by: Reasonable | April 28, 2012  8:42pm

Sarah:  As a professed, loyal Democrat, who would not write such an article on Michelle Obama—who milk’s the federal payroll with a multitude of aides, and massive expense account abuse using taxpayer dollars. Give credit to Ann Romney, Sarah, she is SPENDING HER OWN MONEY, while Michelle Obama is wastefully SPENDING OUR MONEY.

posted by: ctperson13 | April 29, 2012  3:55pm

Thank you Sarah Darer Littman, for pointing out how horribly out of touch Ann Romney is with the lives of the average American. And she’s not the only one who hasn’t got a clue what it’s like to lose sleep wondering whether you’ll be able to hold onto the house that your children call home.

posted by: saramerica | April 29, 2012  8:33pm


I wrote this before Romney gave his “borrow money from your parents” advice. You still think he “gets it” Goat Boy? All very well for the wealthy - not so great for those whose parents are already struggling with healthcare costs and had their retirement accounts hit by the stock market crash. Oh and don’t forget, Mitt embraces the Ryan budget, which is going to put more pressure those parents who will be feeling insecure about their retirement and medical expenses in the future. Yeah, good luck with Mitt.

posted by: Reasonable | April 30, 2012  9:19am

ctperson13: Since when did being a millionaire—MAKES YOU A PERSON OUT OF TOUCH? Pres. Barack Obama is also a millionaire—and perhaps he is out of touch with the American people, also. If you listen to Sarah Darer Littman—you would be led to believe that only Republicans are millionaires…out of touch with our people.  Perhaps you, and Sarah cry out for the parasites who live off of public assistance handouts from our deficit federal and state budgets as your success class.

posted by: Reasonable | April 30, 2012  10:47am

stellablu22:  Unlike you and Sarah Darer Littman—
I’m in favor of millionaires, whether they are Democrat or Republican—as being in the middle class—I am not supporting them—like I am supporting the social benefits crowd—who vote
strictly Democratic—looking for more social benefits.  At least millionaires WORK FOR A LIVING, and create jobs—the social benefit crowd you apparently favor—do not!  They are bleeding the middle class, not the millionaires, who also pay taxes to support them!

posted by: Brian Parker | April 30, 2012  1:57pm

Brian Parker

If you think MS bows to people with money, Sarah, your wrong. My bank account doesn’t help my numbness, poor site, or loss of motor skills.

Before I unfair judge your premise I’ll ask. Are you asserting that a person who is poor or was poor should be the basis for us electing their spouse to the white house?

Since I know, Sarah, that you are smarter than me, I will assume that is not your premise.

Have a net worth over a million does not make someone out of touch. Having a net work below Zero, likewise does not make someone out of touch. That’s simpy unfair.

Much like it would be unfair for us to assume ALL people from Fairfield County are rich. *winks*

posted by: saramerica | April 30, 2012  4:21pm


I in no way implied that MS bowed to people with money, Brian. My point, which you seem to be missing, is that a middle class person even WITH health insurance, coping with two illnesses like MS and breast cancer as Ann Romney has/is doing would be in facing huge out of pocket costs. Now Mitt’s advice to college students in a difficult economy: “Be an entrepreneur! Borrow money from your parents!” Forgive me, but this is out of touch with the economic reality of most Americans, particularly after 2008. You appear to be purposely misinterpreting what I’m saying, but hey, I’m used to that. Just ask “Reasonable.” And I’m very sorry that you are having to cope with MS. Dealing with any chronic disease sucks.

posted by: jenand | April 30, 2012  6:05pm

i have MS (which I prefer to call “Pryor’s Disease”, for my favorite comic genius Richard Pryor, who died some years back from MS, one of the most frustrating and disabling diseases ever adopted by a cruel virus. Pryor’s is unpredictable and vaguely genetic, Ann Romney is blessed to know, without a doubt, that she will always be cared for.  Most of us do not have that specieal comfort, and worry all the time -“how will I wake up tomorrow? Will I walk straight or sideways, will I be able to get off the couch?”  It’s a crappy disease.  Insurance and the wait for Social Security Disability, has just about busted me, all my 401K, all my savings, lots of hospital bills, because of huge copays, then secret out of pocket surprises.  I don’t care what The Romneys’ political opinions are - may they never inhabit the White House and may they gently fade into the hight.

posted by: CitizenCT | April 30, 2012  10:16pm

Sarah, no disrespect intended but living in Greenwich CT, the highest income place in the US with a population of 50,000 or more, and after attending Duke University and the Stern School of Business, I don’t see how you would be in a better position to evaluate what it’s like “to be an ordinary mother, one who doesn’t have resources, who struggles and has to make choices every single day” than Ms. Romney is.

posted by: saramerica | May 1, 2012  6:21am


CitizenCT - Before you start making assumptions without knowing anything about my life, I had student loans. Do you want to know how I paid for Stern? I went at night while I was working on Wall St. My company paid for part of it, and I took out loans for the rest. And I was ill part of the time I was doing it - probably as a result of stress - and there were times when, despite having insurance - I didn’t go to the doctor because I had to pay rent. Unlike some people, I didn’t forget what it was like when I become more fortunate. And unlike the Romneys, I have some experience of what it is like.

Secondly, while I am certainly not in dire straits, please do not make the ignorant assumption that so many do about people in Greenwich. Part of the reason we have such a big achievement gap in our town is because of the HUGE wealth gap.

Thirdly, even for a person who considers herself fortunate, I am self-employed and have two kids with chronic medical conditions. My out-of-pocket medical expenses, despite having insurance, are through the roof. And it’s those little things like the insurer deciding that my daughter’s insulin pump supplies, the ones that give her better HBA1 results, are medical “devices” rather than “supplies” so now they only have to cover them 50% instead of 80%. Would Ann Romney blink twice? No, she would use whatever gives her daughter the best results for her long-term health. But the difference between 50% coverage and 80% coverage makes a HUGE impact on my budget. But IT’S MY DAUGHTER. What would you do?

posted by: bill_payuh | May 2, 2012  9:56pm

Mitt showed how out of touch he was after the Iowa caucus. He went straight to NH and was asked about profiteering… which he purposely misunderstood as “profiting”, and then went on to say “profits make your 401k’s and pensions possible” (I am paraphrasing)... The proper reply is: “have you paid any attention to either 40k’s or pensions over the last decade, you entitled inbred twit?”  If my 401k was linked to unregulated speculation in petro-futures, he might have a point, but it isn’t, and he doesn’t. Romney makes his money the old fashioned way… insider trading and family fortunes.  Romney is just another snake oil and trickle-down salesman who has never wanted for a thing, and has no idea how “other people” live.  His wife is just more of the same.

posted by: Reasonable | May 4, 2012  4:54pm

bill_payuh:  You were wrong to describe Mitt Romney as another snake-oil and trickle down salesman—as Pres. Barack Obama is the   salesman owns that handle already.  Fortunately, Mitt Romney will replace “the snake-oil salesman” on election day, to return our country back to the people.

And you don’t have to continue to beat-up on Mrs. Ann Romney, as the theme of this Sarah Darer Littman attack blog already accomplished that.
Sarah doesn’t like Republicans, and you did well to try to back up her literary precident.