Romney fact-checked on "binders full of women"

Those now-infamous binders were not made at his request

Published October 17, 2012 1:26PM (EDT)

Last night's "Big Bird" moment turned out to be Mitt Romney's answer to a question about income and workplace inequality, when he described how he requested "binders full of women" as Massachusetts governor because he didn't want to appoint only men to his cabinet posts.

“And I said, ‘Well, gosh, can’t we — can’t we find some — some women that are also qualified?” Romney said in the debate. “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.”

But, as it turns out, this might not be entirely true. Romney did get binders, but they were not at his request, according to David Berstein of the Phoenix in Boston:

"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."

By Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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