About those binders full of women that Romney asked for and staffed up with – it’s not true. Romney never asked for those binders. So, not only was the comment strikingly offensive in its insensitivity, but it was used as a get out of jail free card from a question about equal pay and it’s not true.
Furthermore, his record on employing women in the private sector doesn’t back up his claims from last night and a Romney adviser said today that the Republican presidential candidate would not have supported the Lilly Ledbetter Act. So much for binders full of women sufficing for being a champion of women’s rights.
Turns out, before Romney even took office, a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts got together in order to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. They put the binders full of women’s resumes together. They presented the binders to Romney when he took office.
But that didn’t stop Romney from telling a story last night in which White Knight Mitt Romney rode into the equal pay world with “binders full of women” and staffed up of his own accord.
CROWLEY: Governor Romney, pay equity for women?
ROMNEY: Thank you. An important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.
And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, “How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men.” They said, “Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.” And I said, “Well, gosh, can’t we — can’t we find some — some women that are also qualified?”
And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.
I went to a number of women’s groups and said, “Can you help us find folks,” and they brought us whole binders full of women.
No, Romney did not go to the women’s groups and ask for help – they came to him with binders full of women’s resumes, proving the women were qualified for the many positions he would be appointing. It follows that most likely Romney also never said to his staff, “How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men.” And it further follows that even if he had, he should have known better than to refer to women candidates as “binders full of women” as if he were picking a mail order bride instead of looking at resumes.
The facts, according to The Phoenix, are that Romney did use the binders and appoint women but only to departments that he didn’t care about. None of the senior positions that he cared about went to women. And worse yet, the senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined under Romney (and rose rapidly under the next governor).
Of course, Romney never actually answered the question about equal pay, which is an answer in and of itself. Last night, focus group women who were allegedly undecideds were saying that they liked what Romney had to say and that he had hired so many women, but they wanted to know if he would have supported the Lilly Ledbetter Act.
Obviously they don’t know Romney very well. When Romney launches into a personal anecdote, it’s a sign that he does not want to give a straight answer or discuss actual policy because he doesn’t think you’re going to like his position. Sometimes, he obscures his position with a shiny ball story about binders full of women that he takes full credit for.
In fact, last night Romney surrogates were using the binders full of women story to get Romney out of hot water yet again. They kept saying that it was more important to look at how he conducted himself than to talk about policy. But even if Romney had ordered up the binders full of women, how would that help a woman in another state? Hiring women doesn’t address the inequity in pay, either.
But additionally, a Romney adviser told the Huffington Post last night that Romney would not have signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act. He was “opposed to it at the time.”
“The governor would not repeal the Lilly Ledbetter Act,” said Gillespie, following Tuesday night’s presidential debate. “He was opposed to it at the time. He would not repeal it.”
Furthermore, Governor Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Act. The House Republican also voted four times to defund Planned Parenthood, which also happens to be a Romney pledge.
In case it’s still not clear where Mitt Romney stands on the matter, the Boston Globe fact-checked his record at Bain. “Romney, however, did not have a history of appointing women to high-level positions in the private sector. Romney did not have any women partners as CEO of Bain Capital during the 1980s and 1990s.” Yes, the field was dominated by men back then, but even today, just 4 of 49 managers in the buyout field at Bain are women.
Lilly Ledbetter was none too impressed with Romney last night. She issued a statement saying if Romney were really concerned about the women in this country, he’d take a stand against paycheck discrimination. Ms. Ledbetter said, “Mitt Romney’s solution on leveling the playing field tonight was to point out he once had a binder full of women applicants. That binder didn’t help me at Goodyear, and it’s not helping the women across this country, making 77 cents for every dollar a man gets.” She continued, “If Romney was truly concerned about women in this economy, he’d take a stand against paycheck discrimination. Instead, he has remained silent and refused to speak out for equal pay for women and their families. Simply put, Romney doesn’t get it.”
President Obama does get it. He said last night, “I just want to point out that when Governor Romney’s campaign was asked about the Lilly Ledbetter bill, whether he supported it, he said, ‘I’ll get back to you.’ And that’s not the kind of advocacy that women need in any economy.” Copy that, President Obama.
Mitt Romney and his binders full of women he didn’t ask for, a private sector with no female partners and not supporting the Lilly Ledbetter Act proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Mitt Romney doesn’t get it. But what would you expect from a man who said that he learns all he needs to know about women’s issues from his wife, who does not work outside of the home — and even if she did, would not be subject to the kind of discrimination that women who are not protected by wealth are. All of this and we haven’t even gotten into the financial ramifications for women and their families of his wanting to defund Planned Parenthood and kill ObamaCare.
But, binders full of women!
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Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.