Mitt Romney and President Obama went toe-to-toe on everything from Libya to taxes in Tuesday's debate, but it was Romney's comment about "binders full of women" that set the internet on fire. When asked about pay equity for women, Romney said that when he was governor of Massachusetts he went to women's groups for help finding qualified female recruits for cabinet posts, and they gave him "binders full of women" qualified for the jobs. (See the video below.) Within seconds, the awkwardly phrased remark was everywhere online. There were "binders full of women" on Facebook and Tumblr. The domain names bindersfullofwomen.com (and .net) were snapped up, and Twitter was awash with #bindersfullofwomen quips. Romney caught up with Obama among women voters after the first debate, and the question offered him a chance to build even more momentum. Did he blow it?
This sexist remark should scare women voters: Mitt was trying "to prove he's all about equal rights and pay," says Maressa Brown at The Stir. Instead, his "condescending and sexist" insult about "binders full of women" shows how he "really feels about women." He opposes the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and wants employers to be free to deny people contraceptive coverage. Thanks, Mitt, for reminding us your policies "would be a horror show" for women.
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Overall, Romney likely won over some women: Romney's comment was awkwardly phrased, but it was part of a description of "his effort to get more women in his cabinet," a potential boost for his recent gains among women, says John D. McKinnon at The Wall Street Journal. Romney also made the case for greater flexibility in the workplace and pointed out that 3.5 million women have fallen into poverty under Obama. If you look at everything Romney said in the battle for women voters, the GOP challenger actually did "fairly well."
Don't overlook the worst part of Romney's quip: Romney's "binders full of women" blunder was bizarre — but it's also "not a true story," says David S. Bernstein at The Phoenix. Romney didn't ask for help recruiting qualified women. Women's groups were upset about a lack of women in government and put together the binders before he was elected, then gave them to him. Moreover, Romney was in business for 25 years but apparently "didn't know any qualified women, or know where to find any qualified women. So what does that say?"
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