CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) — President Barack Obama on Wednesday ridiculed challenger Mitt Romney's debate description of receiving "binders full of women," while the GOP nominee said the incumbent's policies have failed female voters.
The two bounded out of their quarrelsome Tuesday night debate on an intensified search for voters who will swing the election, with a particular focus on women.
Democrats criticized Romney's answers during the debate on gender pay equity and how he recruited women to his administration as governor of Massachusetts. Romney said he 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 comment became an instant trend on social media networks, spawning parodies and its own accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Obama piled on, telling Iowa voters: "We don't have to collect a bunch of binders to find qualified, talented women." He reminded them that the first bill he signed into law was pay equity legislation named after Lilly Ledbetter that Romney did not support.
Romney argued that he has the answer for women who want better schools and job opportunities.
"Why is it that there are 3.6 million more women in poverty today than when the president took office?" Romney asked at a rally in Chesapeake, Va. "This president has failed America's women."
Polling on the women's vote has been mixed, with some surveys showing Romney erasing Obama's advantage since their first debate two weeks ago and others showing Obama maintaining a lead.
To reach out, Obama spoke with his sleeves rolled up to expose a pink rubber bracelet in honor of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. GOP running mate Paul Ryan was introduced in Ohio by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and both talked about how women have been hurt by the economy under Obama. Both campaigns filled risers behind their rally podiums with female supporters so they would dominate television shots of the candidates addressing the crowd.