Elections

Presidential contenders accuse each other of having ‘binder’ problems

Photo of Alex Pappas
Alex Pappas
Political Reporter
  • See All Articles
  • Send Email
  • Subscribe to RSS
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Bio

      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

Call it the battle of the binders.

The race for the White House has been reduced to who has the bigger “binder” problem.

It all began with Democrats mocking Republican nominee Mitt Romney for recalling in Tuesday night’s debate that he had “whole binders full of women” to consider for jobs while he was governor of Massachusetts.

“We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet,” Romney said when asked about equal pay in the workplace. “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.”

The “binders full of women” line went viral and immediately became an Internet meme. Google said the phrase was the third top rising search in the search engine during the debate.

Democrats made it clear they planned to use Romney’s quote to accuse him of being weak on women’s issues.

“We’re Gonna Talk Binders at 12:15 PM EDT” Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse wrote in an email to reporters about a Wednesday conference call.

In that call, the Democrats trotted out Lilly Ledbetter of Lilly Ledbetter Act fame to accuse Romney of “referring to women as resumes in binders if women were in the workforce.”

But Republicans held their own conference call to accuse Obama of having a “binder” issue.

“He didn’t lay out a plan for a second term agenda,” Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said in that call. “He’s had two debates, he’s offered plenty of excuses, but he hasn’t offered a plan. And that’s what we’re calling the empty binder.”

In the same call, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte said, “On this empty binder issue, it’s the president who has the empty binder because there’s no legislation planned for the second term other than more spending.”

Romney “had a phenomenal track record, as governor, of recruiting and getting terrific women to lead with him in Massachusetts and it speaks for himself,” Ayotte said. “But one of the things about this whole focus of the Democrats on the binder issue is because they don’t want to talk about the issues that really matter to all voters. All issues are women’s issues.”

American Bridge 21st Century PAC, a political action committee founded and run by Media Matters for America founder David Brock, took immediate advantage of Romney’s “binder” moment, starting a Tumblr account at binder-o-women.tumblr.com to mock the former Massachusetts governor.

By Wednesday morning the project, a virtual Romney opposition-research file on women’s issues, had a more permanent home at bindersfullofwomen.com.

Follow Alex on Twitter