Romney’s condescending ‘binders full of women’ story falls apart


President Barack Obama, Democrats and “The Internets” are all ridiculing Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” comment from Tuesday’s debate.

When asked about gender pay equality,  Romney said that, as governor of Massachusetts, he tried to increase gender diversity in his administration by going to  ”a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks?’ And they brought us whole binders full of women.”

The comment became an instant target on the Web, spawning parodies and satirical accounts on social media sites Twitter and Facebook.

President Obama piled on Wednesday at a rally in Iowa.

“We don’t have to collect a bunch of binders to find qualified, talented women,” Obama said. He also reminded supporters the first bill he signed into law was pay equity legislation named after Lilly Ledbetter, which Romney did not support.

But Romney’s remarks were not only condescending to women.  They were outright untruthful, according to three women who worked for Massachusetts Government Appointments Project (MassGAP), a  bi-partisan coalition of women’s groups that approached Romney’s team to encourage appointing more women to senior positions.

“To be perfectly clear,” said Jesse Mermell, former executive director of MassGAP, “Mitt Romney did not request those resumes.”

During a conference call held by the Democratic National Committee, Mermell said says it was MassGAP which approached Romney’s team to encourage those appointments.

Romney displayed “a 1950’s Mad Men attitude” toward women, said Mermell.  “Mitt Romney’s general attitudes are stuck in the past. His comments last night could not have been more condescending or more out of date.”

Mermell said Romney employed fewer females in senior administration posts than his predecessor, Jane Swift, a Republican, and his successor, Deval Patrick, a Democrat.  She said 14 of Romney’s first 33 appointments were women, but that the number sank as his term continued.

Liz Levin, MassGAP’s chair at the time, says the group created the binder on their own initiative before Romney took office.  Levin concedes, however, that Romney was a “willing participant with us. Carol Hardy-Fanta, former co-chair of MassGAP’s higher education subcommittee, told The Huffington Post, confirms that Romney “didn’t go out looking for these binders.”

Romney's condescending 'binders full of women' story falls apart