Romney Blunder #2: His ‘Binders of Women’

This exchange:

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, pay equity for women?

ROMNEY: Thank you. And 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?"

ROMNEY: 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.

Within minutes, Governor Romney's awkward and strange phrase had its own Tumblr, its own Facebook page, and its own Twitter handle.

Now that's winning – except when it's not.


As a follow-up to this moment, David Bernstein at The Phoenix writes:

I have written about this before, in various contexts; tonight I've checked with several people directly involved in the MassGAP effort who confirm that this history as I've just presented it is correct — and that Romney's claim tonight, that he asked for such a study, is false.

I will write more about this later, but for tonight let me just make a few quick additional points. First of all, according to MassGAP and MWPC, Romney did appoint 14 women out of his first 33 senior-level appointments, which is a reasonably impressive 42 percent. However, as I have reported before, those were almost all to head departments and agencies that he didn't care about — and in some cases, that he quite specifically wanted to not really do anything. None of the senior positions Romney cared about — budget, business development, etc. — went to women.

Secondly, a UMass-Boston study found that the percentage of senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout the Romney administration, from 30.0% prior to his taking office, to 29.7% in July 2004, to 27.6% near the end of his term in November 2006. (It then began rapidly rising when Deval Patrick took office.)

Third, note that in Romney's story as he tells it, this man who had led and consulted for businesses for 25 years didn't know any qualified women, or know where to find any qualified women. So what does that say?


  1. 99% says

    I am so glad that Mitt elaborated that he made sure the women he hired could get home to cook dinner and take care of the kids. No mention of equal pay, but home to cook and clean; spot on, Mittens.

  2. Alex says

    I wish President Obama had followed up on the main difference – Governor Romney spoke about making one-off casual arrangements with high-ranking staff (i.e., special treatment for the already privileged such as allowing his staff flex time) and while President Obama codified permanent (rather than on his whim) equal rights for all in the Lily Ledbetter fair pay act.

  3. Diogenes Arktos says

    Andy, I wish you had included in detail Bernstein’s history of the binders, which is what he said just before you started quoting him. It would have made what you quoted much clearer.

  4. says

    I am fairly certain that he was thinking about and referencing the binders of qualified women polygamists use to select their child brides from. If it works so well in a private setting it’s got to be just as effecting in the business realm.

  5. Rudy Blume says

    No one seems to be pointing out that Mitt Romney in the first debate said he wouldn’t have any tax cuts and in the second debate said that he was eliminating taxes on interest/dividends under $200,000. Why is it that no one is talking about this?

Leave A Reply