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Romney’s ‘Binders Full Of Women’ Comment Still Reverberating

Republican candidate Mitt Romney participates in the presidential debate Tuesday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Republican candidate Mitt Romney participates in the presidential debate Tuesday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

BOSTON — Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s comment about consulting “binders full of women” is still going viral. His remark — said in the second presidential debate on Tuesday — about finding qualified people for his gubernatorial Cabinet has sparked a Tumblr, a Facebook page and jokes on late-night TV.

But in Massachusetts, the quotation is causing some head scratching among women who were involved in the administration’s search.

Here’s the now-famous moment:

We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds who would be qualified to be members of our Cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and they brought us whole binders full of women.

Actually it happened a little differently, according to the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus. In 2002, it created the Massachusetts Government Appointments Project (MassGAP) to identify women for high-level government positions. Priti Rao, the executive director of the women’s caucus, says it was not at Romney’s request that they complied the binders full of women.

“The binder was a grassroots effort of a lot of women activists and volunteers that came together in an effort to go out and find and recruit and put forward the best women we could find for these various positions,” Rao said.

“Both of those things are true,” said Romney’s lieutenant governor, Kerry Healey. She says he first reached out to his business contacts and then called MassGAP.

“He also engaged very actively with them to see the names that they had been collecting, both before the election and afterward in order to aid in that process,” Healey said.

Healey says Romney found 20-30 percent of his female appointees from the MassGAP list. The way MassGAP counts it, 42 percent of Romney’s new appointments were women.

But Boston Phoenix political writer David Bernstein says percentages can be misleading. He says most of the roles given to women, aside from lieutenant governor and chief of staff, were in departments or agencies Romney didn’t care about.

“When you look at some of the key ones that matter to him — the head of administration and finance, who is really in charge of the budget for the governor, two men, commonwealth development was two men,” Bernstein said. “Transportation, [a] very high-profile department, and again that was led by men.”

And Bernstein says most of these men were people Romney knew while he worked at Bain Capital. According to The Boston Globe, Bain Capital had no female partners during Romney’s time there.

Healey, who is now a special adviser for the Romney campaign, says it’s unfair to say Romney didn’t appoint women to important roles.

“I find that laughable,” Healey said, “because I don’t know how you can say beside the lieutenant governor and the chief of staff and the chief policy person, who were all women, then there was director of workforce development, the director of business development and regulation, secretary of environmental affairs, secretary of aging.

“How is it that these jobs are not important and influential jobs within our administration?”

Romney is now highlighting the role of women in his Massachusetts administration in a new video. It features three who served in his Cabinet, including Ellen Roy Herzfelder, former secretary of environmental affairs.

“He totally gets working women,” Herzfelder says in the video, “especially women like myself who had two young kids.”

This ad makes it clear women voters are crucial in this election. Both Romney and President Obama are working hard to win them over.

No word on whether either is compiling “binders full of women” who could work in the White House.

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Z22YOHMUL5PE252GXZNDS63QXU John

    The liberals and the media is making a big deal about this binder crap. Following THEIR logic….Obama had a beer in the rose garden therefore he promotes alcoholism. People had better start worrying about the economy instead of these little distractions that the Liberals are throwing out there. The question is: Can your finances withstand 48 more months of Obamanomics?

    • durham kid

       John:  I see this argument about the economy on many websites – but THIS site is one is where I actually think people will listen to logic (including you, I hope):

      Obama inherited the worst economic situation since the Great Depression.   Today, the economy is lackluster but relatively stable.  Not as good as we would like, but arguably a much better situation than when he started and a respectable accomplishment.

      The deficit that he inherited was created by two wars under W.  Now Obama wants to do what all economists recommend – spending money to stimulate the economy.  That will mean higher deficits – temporarily – but they are for SOCIAL & HUMAN needs and not wars = BIG difference there.

      One big problem about spending money on infrastructure is the Republican
      opposition.   But NOW is the time to invest in our infrastructure:  we have historically low interest rates historically low interest rates so money is very cheap to borrow and people need the work!  It’s a win-win! 

      To the deficit argument: Since that infrastructure is going to need to be repaired soon anyway, it will end up being added to the deficit either now – or in 5 or 10 years  – but very soon in any case.  Decaying infrastructure does not wait for our deficit to come down.

      Maybe after another section of highway falls and kills dozens of people we will finally decide to bite the bullet and make the necessary repairs.  Then the decision will be an emotional one – and not one where we consider the options that I have tried to lay out above.

      On to another issue you mention:  the issue about “this binder crap” is that Romney was very misleading in his statement.  All politicians do a little misleading – and no one like it, but we accept a certain amount.  The problem is that Romney does a LOT of misleading, even for a politician.

      Perhaps if Romney didn’t contradict his past positions so often, “this binder crap” would not be a big deal – but I don’t think people trust Romney. 

      So, in that way, he has actually brought this on himself.

  • Ggh4568

    As usual Romney is a JOKE and any sane woman who would vote for him and Ryan is jus laughable indeed…ggarton in Long Beach, CA

  • Gardenia

    Mitt Romney is just a rich, probably richer than any of us know, fool.

    My fervent wish is for Obama  to win by a landslide!

  • really??!!

    It’s absolutely comical that Ellen Roy Herzfelder should have any credence as a regular ol’ working mom.  She is unbelievably wealthy and comes from a hugely rich family.  Anyone familiar with her mansion and extremely grand Cohasset lifestyle knows that she has always employed an army of nannies, cooks, cleaners, gardeners, groundskeepers, caterers, pool tenders, and on and on.  If one of her kids needed something while she was at work in Romney’s MA administration, some paid member of her staff would have been all over it.  Bedraggled working mother, my arse.   

  • Gardenia

    Mitt Romney is not capable of being President of the USA.  He is just a rich man who knows how to hide his wealth so that his tax bill is lower than the middle class folks like us.  Throw him off the train before he does any damage.  Can any of you imagine him bumbling through our complex issues?

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