UPDATED: Mitt Romney’s “Woman Problem” is still a very big problem

Well, that didn’t help…

A recent poll showed that Mitt Romney had closed the gap with American women voters. Not too many serious observers believed it but, whether it was true or not, he completely reversed any movement toward him by women in his debate with President Obama last night.

From his “binder full of women” gaffe to his comment about women needing to get home to make dinner, Romney seemed to almost go out of his way to offend women.

The most telling comment came when he was asked about pay equity for women:

[W]e 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.

I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.

Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort. But number two, because I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school.

She said, I can’t be here until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o’clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.

There’s a lot to cover in that statement. First of all, there’s the fact that he is actually lying about going out and actively looking for women for his cabinet. As Kaili Joy Gray at Daily Kos points out, that claim is utter bullshit:

Binders full of women. Yup. That was tonight’s pitch to the lady voters. He once looked at some binders with women in them.

Wow. Ooooh. Ahhhh. What a man. What a leader. What a feminist. What a guy chicks should totally vote for because binders.

Just one teeny, tiny little problem with Mitt’s “Vote for me ’cause binders!” pitch. As David S. Bernstein explains, it’s bullshit:

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.

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.

Got that? Mitt Romney didn’t go out of his way to look for women. He didn’t ask for anyone’s help. He didn’t say, “My goodness, where are the women?”

The women came to him. They told him he needed to hire more women.

It’s also worth noting that women are not objects to be placed in binders like the 14-year old girls some polygamist Mormons put in binders (called Joy Books) when they are available to be married by the pedophile men in their community.

Second, there’s the idea that only women need special accommodation because they have go home to get supper on the table. That’s not only offensive to women; it is, in fact, offensive to men. Men don’t cook dinner for their families? Men don’t need to be home to help kids with their homework or to spend time with them? Screw you, asshole. I and many other dads did that the entire time our kids were young.

He also said this:

I’d just note that I don’t believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not. And I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care of not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives. And — and the — and the president’s statement of my policy is completely and totally wrong.

That, too, is a complete lie. Mitt Romney supported the Blunt Amendment which allowed employers to deny their female employees access to health insurance coverage for contraception. Viagra? Okay. The Pill? Not okay.

Mitt Romney has also said he’d be “delighted” to sign a bill that outlaws all abortions.

He’d also appoint Supreme Court justices that would support overturning Roe vs. Wade.

He’d also defund Planned Parenthood.

So, let us not pretend that Mitt Romney is any way a pro-woman candidate.

Obama campaign spokesperson Lis Smith released this statement today:

Women are on to Mitt Romney. That’s why he’s trying so hard to spin away the truth about his extreme positions, like during last night’s debate when he dishonestly claimed that he doesn’t ‘believe employers should tell someone whether they could contraceptive care or not.’ These are the facts: he’d put women’s health care decisions in the hands of their employers, has said he’d be ‘delighted’ to sign a bill banning all abortions, and called Roe v. Wade ‘one of the darkest moments in Supreme Court history,’ while pledging to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn it. Women simply can’t trust him to stand up for them.

These aren’t just “vagina issues”. These are economics issues. Women go to Planned Parenthood because it is often the only health care they can afford. Whether it’s for mammograms, for cervical cancer screenings, or for contraception.

Supporting pay equity for women is very clearly an economics issue. Today we learn that Mitt Romney did not support the Lily Ledbetter Act. That is, perhaps, the most egregious anti-woman stance a candidate could take. As President Obama said last night, “One of the things that makes us grow as an economy is when everybody participates and women are getting the same fair deal as men are.”

UPDATE 1: Turns out the Romney campaign, as they always do, is now walking back their statement that Governor Romney didn’t support the Lily Ledbetter Act when it was passed.

From Kasie Hunt, Politico journalist:

Honestly, you’d think they’d know how to answer this question properly by now, wouldn’t you?

These are economics issues. They are family issues. They are middle class issues.

Romney can have his wife jet around the country telling everyone what a great guy he is all he wants. The fact is, however, that Mitt Romney is an anti-woman candidate. And women are going to let him know just exactly how they feel about that on November 6th, 2012.

UPDATE 2: I just received an email from the Romney campaign that shows that they are in complete freak-out mode about this issue. It’s from his former Lt. Governor Kerry Healey and it starts like this:

Women have become accustomed to strong words from politicians on equality and our role in the world. They are, after all, trying to win our votes. But when Mitt Romney talks about women, when he says he believes that we can do any job a man can do, I know from experience that he’s speaking from the heart.

I have no doubt that Mitt Romney thinks women can do any job a man can do. What we’re all wondering (or not, given his history) is whether he’s willing to pay a woman the same as a man for that job.

My money is on “nope”.

[Graphics by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog]

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