After CNN contributor John Fugelsang agreed with the "substance" of Hilary Rosen's remarks on Ann Romney, conservative columnist Will Cain laid into him for "Balkanizing" the country into classes and sects. The exchange happened during the 7 a.m. hour of Starting Point.
Rosen, a Democratic activist, had sparked an outcry for saying Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life, but CNN host Soledad O'Brien stepped in and claimed people were missing the "whole point of what she was saying." Fugelsang, a liberal comedian and CNN regular, agreed. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
"She was going after Governor Mitt Romney because he was the one who said he went to his wife as an economic consultant on women's economic issues," Fugelsang argued. "And in that sense, Hilary Rosen, was spot on saying that's not realistic."
He added that Romney's strategy was "disrespectful to the millions of non-millionaire stay at home moms who are struggling financially, whereas Ann Romney hasn't." TheBlaze.com's Will Cain then called him out for narrowing down the class of economic experts to "a very small group of people that you've pre-ordained."
"If you play this game and you want to 'Balkanize' the United States and you want to divide and pander on race," Cain ranted, "If you want to create these false wars, you are inevitably going to have internal firing, because you just can't divide us that much."
The following is what Rosen said on Wednesday's Anderson Cooper 360:
"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.
"Guess what, his wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She's 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 how do we – why do we worry about their future?"
A transcript of the segment, which aired on April 13 on Starting Point at 7:46 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: That sound you hear is the sound of the DNC backpedalling away from Hilary Rosen, really distancing themselves very aggressively.
ABBY HUNTSMAN: Well, and I think the RNC has made mugs now saying, like –
O'BRIEN: Yeah, they've been selling.
HUNTSMAN: – stay at home moms are working too.
O'BRIEN: Which kind of misses the whole point of what she was saying. She was connecting an economic message to working moms, and as she said in her apology, which we should play. Let's play Hilary's apology from Situation Room last night.
ROSEN: I apologize. Working moms, stay at home moms, they're both extremely hard jobs. I know. I've shared them both and I'm sorry if that offended you.
(End Video Clip)
FUGELSANG: I flipped on Hilary Rosen. Yesterday –
O'BRIEN: Yes, you were mad.
FUGELSANG: I was very mad at her because what she said was completely stupid. But you know what, like most Americans, I only heard the one sound bite. Once I heard the entire context of what she said, I completely defend the substance of what – of her statements because she was not in any way attacking Ann Romney for being a stay at home mom or, in this case, a stay at five homes mom.
She was going after Governor Mitt Romney because he was the one who said he went to his wife as an economic consultant on women's economic issues. And in that sense, Hilary Rosen, was spot on saying that's not realistic. And it's disrespectful to the millions of non-millionaire stay at home moms who are struggling financially, whereas Ann Romney hasn't. It was not an attack on Ann Romney. It was a disgusting, stupid choice of words, but the substance of what she said is completely valid.
CAIN: So, it's interesting now that John is defending a point of view that basically narrows down the qualified people to speak on economic issues to a very small group of people that you've pre-ordained –
FUGELSANG: No, that's not what I'm saying, Will.
O'BRIEN: Hold up, let him finish.
CAIN: If you play this game and you want to "Balkanize" the United States and you want to divide and pander on race, –
O'BRIEN: Balkanize? Did you say "Balkanize"?
CAIN: Yes, I'm not done. Race, gender, class, and age. The war on seniors, let's not forget the war on seniors. If you want to create these false wars, you are inevitably going to have internal firing, because you just can't divide us that much.
FUGELSANG: I came out yesterday and said that the Democratic name of the war on women is completely stupid because it is. And it's going to backfire on them big time. And I'm not a Democrat, but I will say if they change the language to a "war on women's reproductive independence," they'd be a lot more honest.
O'BRIEN: I'd be interested in hearing from a women on the panel. Actually.
FUGELSANG: Please, Abby.
HUNTSMAN: I actually think this isn not going to be that big of an issue come election day. I don't think you will even remember this, come Election Day. I think we have real wars going on. We have $15 trillion in debt. We have a broken tax code. I think we need to get back to these issues. And I think I agree with you, Will. This is when it really divides our country at a time when we do not need to be divided.
HUNTSMAN: That being said, though, Soledad, we were talking a little bit about women at home, whether they choose to be or not. And I think it was a wrong choice of words, but there are a lot of women –
O'BRIEN: Which she apologized for. Everyone should move on at this point, and I would agree with you. Get to some of the real substance, which is what she and Bay Buchanan said last night on Anderson's show. Like got it, it was ill put, now let's move on and talk about real issues.
FUGELSANG: And the Catholic League's attacks on Ms. Rosen today for being a lesbian mom who adopted her kids are deliberately disgusting.