(AP/Charles Dharapak)

Mitt Romney's "binders full of women" actually exists, which actually makes it worse

A Mitt Romney defender brought out the infamous binders. Maybe they should have stayed hidden


Rachel Leah
April 11, 2017 9:57PM (UTC)

There are few phrases more notorious from the 2012 election than former Republican nominee Mitt Romney's claim that he had "binders full of women." Five years later, the statement is just as bizarre, and yet, worsened by the discovery that these binders actually exist.

According to the Boston Globe — which unearthed the binders — they date back to 2002, when Romney won the race for Governor and had a vision of diversifying his cabinet. But rather than "binders full of women" simply being a robotic espousal of Romney's commitment to women's issues, he actually segregated applicants just to find qualified women for his cabinet. Clearly, experienced women did not exist in his orbit prior to his governorship.

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Even the impetus of the binders is being debated. Women's groups collaborated under the guise of the Massachusetts Government Appointments Project to compile potential female applicants. But while Romney claimed he requested the binders to fill a void of a lack of women in government posts, the Globe said, "veterans of the coalition recall providing them unsolicited."

Regardless, the binders are real, in the form of two three-ring binders, shared by a former aide to the Globe. They are filled with 200 cover letters and resumes that weigh close to 16 pounds.

Romney's original statement in 2012 was reminiscent of workplace language in the 1950s, and I don't even know how far back we need to go to encompass the actuality of these binders. But as President Barack Obama said the following day on the campaign trail in Iowa: “I’ve got to tell you, we don’t have to collect a bunch of binders to find qualified, talented, driven young women.”

 


Rachel Leah

Rachel Leah is a culture writer for Salon. You can follow her on Twitter: @rachelkleah.

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