Mitt Romney’s remark about “binders full of women” in Tuesday night’s debate is taking on a life of its own today, even being seized upon by anti-Mormon bigots on Twitter who suggest his comment refers to having multiple wives.
The Republican nominee used the phrase in discussing his efforts to find qualified women to serve in his cabinet when he was governor of Massachusetts.
As he responded to a question about equal pay for women, Romney said, “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.”
Almost immediately, anti-Mormon comments began popping up on Twitter, as some tried to make a connection between the former promotion of polygamy among Mormons to Romney’s remark.
“Of course Mitt Romney had ‘binders full of women,’ He’s a Mormon!” tweeted Alexis Monique. “What he omitted is that the women call each other ‘sister wives.'”
Others followed suit.
“Was nice to hear @MittRomney discuss Mormonism for the 1st time. Binders full of women is how you do polygamy when your rich & successful,” said Todd Pietzsch.
“Does anyone else want to see Mitt’s binder of women? Do you think they are the sister wives?” asked Melinda Rusconi.
And Chandra Steele said: “Mitt just got confused. Binders full of women meeting was with TLC casting directors pitching him on ‘Sister Wives.'”
Beyond the tie to polygamy, instant websites have popped up, including BindersFullofWomen.com, as well as pages on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter dedicated to the comment, often featuring comedic artwork.
Even President Obama himself jumped on the binders bandwagon today during a campaign stop in Iowa.
“I’ve gotta tell you, we don’t have to collect a bunch of binders to find qualified, talented, terrific young women ready to work and teach in these fields right now!” Obama said as a crowd of some 2,800 at Cornell College, outside Cedar Rapids, cheered.
Emma G. Keller of Britain’s Guardian tried to explain why Romney’s remark struck a nerve with some women, saying: “Why did the phrase resonate? Because it was tone deaf, condescending and out of touch with the actual economic issues that women are so bothered about. The phrase objectified and dehumanized women. It played right into the perception that so many women have feared about a Romney administration – that a president Romney would be sexist and set women back.”
Business Insider notes that on a Republican National Committee conference call this morning, the GOP used to the comment to indicate President Obama has an “empty binder” of a plan for a second term as president.
“Obama has a weakness when it comes to the question, ‘Will the next four years be any different?’ And they won’t be,” RNC Chair Reince Priebus said.
“It’s the president that has the empty binder,” New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte added.
Meanwhile, David S. Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix claims the scenario of events when Romney was governor was not quite according to what was said in the debate.
What actually happened was that in 2002 – prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration – a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.
They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.