Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney sparked controversy in 2012 when during a debate with then-President Barack Obama, he referred to “binders full of women.” Now, it’s emerged that it wasn’t just a figure of speech and that the former governor of Massachusetts did actually have “binders full of women” after they were handed over to the press.
According to the Independent, 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney was widely mocked when he used the phrase in an election debate with Barack Obama, who he later lost the election to.
Romney, when asked a question about workplace equality, replied by saying, “I had the chance to put together a cabinet, and all the applicants seemed to be men… 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.”
At the time, Romney’s comments were criticized as both clumsy and sexist, however, it wasn’t clear if the “binders full of women” Romney was referring to were real or just a figure of speech.
But it’s now confirmed that the binders do exist after a former Romney aide passed them to a reporter at the Boston Globe. According to Salon, the binders date back to 2002 when Romney was Massachusetts governor-elect, with plans to diversify his cabinet. Romney reportedly segregated candidates in order to prioritize women who were qualified for key jobs in his administration.
While Romney claims that he approached women’s groups in order to field candidates, those groups claim that they approached Romney with names. Concerned about a lack of females in high-level positions, the coalition of women’s groups said that they put together a list of names of women interested in positions in Romney’s cabinet and supplied them to the governor-elect.
Despite being mocked for his approach, Romney is widely praised for the number of female cabinet appointees he made during his term as governor.
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Romney ultimately lost the 2012 presidential election to Democratic candidate and then-incumbent President Barack Obama. Obama defeated Romney, winning both the popular vote and the electoral college, with 332 electoral votes to Romney’s 206. Despite that, Romney did manage to decrease Obama’s margin of victory from 2008.
In the 2016 presidential election, several key Republican figures called upon Romney to run for a third time, with no clear nominee. Romney repeatedly declined. He later attacked his party’s nominee, Donald Trump, while also saying that he refused to vote for Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Romney later met with the president-elect to reportedly discuss the position of secretary of state, despite it ultimately being given to Rex Tillerson. In February, Romney said Trump is “off to a very strong start” in fulfilling his campaign promises.
According to the Atlantic, Romney is currently reportedly exploring a 2018 senate bid in Utah, where he has strong support. Republican leaders are reportedly trying to convince 83-year-old incumbent Senator Orrin Hatch not to seek reelection next year and instead allow Romney to run for the seat.
Sources close to Romney claim that he has spent the past few weeks discussing a potential Senate bid with high-level Republicans in both Utah and Washington. Orrin Hatch’s office, meanwhile, has persisted that the president pro tempore hasn’t yet decided whether he will seek reelection next year, with Romney making clear that he would not pursue the seat without Hatch’s blessing.
Since his presidential defeat in 2012, Romney’s return to politics has been the subject of much speculation.
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