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Mitt Romney's 'binders full of women': Will Obama win back female voters?
Romney has made big gains with one of Obama's most important voting bloc. But that may change in the wake of Tuesday's debate
President Obama was all smiles after the Oct. 16 presidential debate.
President Obama was all smiles after the Oct. 16 presidential debate.
John Moore/Getty Images

"There was no doubt about the winner of the second presidential debate: Women," says Michael Scherer at TIME. President Obama and Mitt Romney are locked in an intense battle for women voters, whose shifting allegiances may be the main reason Romney has enjoyed a recent surge in the polls. At the debate, Obama heavily underscored his support for Planned Parenthood, giving women greater access to contraception, and promoting gender equality in the workplace. "These are not just women's issues," he proclaimed. "These are family issues. These are economic issues." Since then, Obama has mocked Romney's widely circulated claim that his staff brought him "binders full of women" to consider hiring, an ill-worded objectification that doesn't sit well with many women. Will female voters start moving back to Obama's camp?

Yes, because Obama went all in on Planned Parenthood: Obama's emphatic defense of Planned Parenthood, which provides women with mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, and, yes, abortions, was "a watershed moment," says Alison Yarrow at The Daily Beast. Obama's "gambit was remarkable both for the rareness of a president choosing and naming one women's group, and for its combativeness — each mention coupled with a reminder that Mitt Romney has vowed to strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding." Obama's debate performance "helped to frame himself for women, and particularly single women, who are one of the most reliably Democratic slices of the electorate."
"Identity politics moment: Obama's very public Planned Parenthood embrace"

Yes, because Romney shot himself in the foot: Romney "bumbled his way through a cringe-inducing attempt to graft what he thinks should be 2012 talking points onto his 1952 sensibility," says The New York Times in an editorial. In addition to giving a lame answer on contraception, he "made things worse when he tried to talk about equal opportunity for women." Romney not only uttered the cringe-inducing "binders full of women" line — his anecdote about his chief of staff needing to go home at five o'clock to make dinner for her kids made it clear he believes that true equality is "satisfied by allowing the little lady to go home early and tend to her children."
"Mr. Romney's version of equal rights"

No, because women care most about the economy: Most voters, including women, "are focused on the real problems out nation is facing," says Frank Miniter at Forbes. "First among these are pocketbook issues — national debt, taxes, and jobs." And "after months of the Obama campaign demonizing Romney, women who are independents saw Romney on the stage in the first debate and thought he seemed like a stand-up guy." With his superior economic message, and a moderate stance on women's issues, Romney can hold on to his newfound support from women.
"Three reasons why Obama is losing the women's vote"

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

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