The reporters and anchors of Good Morning America on Thursday desperately hyped Mitt Romney's assertion that, while governor of Massachusetts, he had "binders full of women" applicants. David Muir played this as a gaffe, labeling it "the binder blunder." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos tried to build the remark into some sort of game changer: "We saw Mitt Romney make huge gains with women after the first debate. Democrats believe this will block that gains he's made." The "huge gains" Stephanopoulos referred to were first reported in a USA Today poll showing Romney and Barack Obama dead even with swing state women, 48-48. However, this is the first time the host actually mentioned the ominous news for the President.
Earlier in the show, Muir openly declared Romney's comments a mistake: "Now on the binder blunder, Governor Romney tweeting out, 'I understand the challenges women face and want to make it easier for them in the workplace.'"
He played up mockery of the Republican, reminding, "...Overnight, the late night comics with a binder full of jokes."
A transcript of the October 18 segment, which aired a 7:05am EDT, follows:
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the race for the White House, now. It's your voice, your vote with just 19 days to go. And things are heating up even more after that ferocious second debate. One of Mitt Romney's sons letting loose on how he really feels about President Obama overnight. And David Muir is here with the details. Good morning, David.
DAVID MUIR: Hey, George. Good morning to you. The campaign telling me this morning that Romney's son, Tagg, was only joking about how frustrating this whole process can be for the family when he told a radio host that while watching that debate, he wanted to go down and take a swing at the President. Overnight, a new sign of just how contentious this race has become. One of Mitt Romney's sons and trusted campaign advisers Tagg Romney, telling a radio host, watching that debate, wanted to make him take a swing at the president.
BILL LUMAYE (Radio host)What is it like for you, to hear the president of the United States call your dad a liar?
TAGG ROMNEY: Jump out of your seat and you want to rush down the debate stage and take a swing at him. But you know you can't do that because, well, first, there's a lot of Secret Service between you and him. But also because this is the nature of the process.
MUIR: The comments come after a duel of sorts in that town hall debate, at times the President and Mitt Romney standing just feet apart, talking over each other. Each dismissing the other.
BARACK OBAMA: Not true, Governor Romney.
MITT ROMNEY: So, how much did you cut it?
OBAMA: It's not true.
MUIR: The President never called Romney a, quote, "liar." But overnight, the President did take aim at something Mitt Romney said at the debate, an answer that's taken a life of its own. When talking about hiring women as governor--
MITT ROMNEY: 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.
OBAMA: We don't have to order up some binders to find qualified, talented, driven young women.
MUIR: The romney campaign arguing it's a distraction from the real issue most important to women, the economy, arguing 3.6 million more women in poverty.
MITT ROMNEY: This President has failed America's women.
MUIR: Still, overnight, the late night comics with a binder full of jokes.
JIMMY KIMMEL: He said he had, quote, "binders full of women." His policy towards women is clear: "We have to alphabetize them."
MUIR: Now on the binder blunder, Governor Romney tweeting out, "I understand the challenges women face and want to make it easier for them in the workplace," actually tweeting a link to testimonials to women who worked with him as governor. Both sides, George, with an intense focus on women that could be the factor come election day.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay. No question about that. Let's talk about that now. Nicolle Wallace, our political analyst, top strategist for Republican candidates like George Bush and Sarah Palin. Let's pick up where David dropped off right there, on this binders full of women comment. We saw Mitt Romney make huge gains with women after the first debate. Democrats believe this will block that gains he's made.
NICOLLE WALLACE: I don't know if that's the case. I mean, I think we women are complicated and forgiving creatures. And as voters, I think all women are making trade-offs with both of these guys. I don't think anyone, men, but particularly women, were attracted to the nastiness that they saw in that debate. And while people came off and said, "Oh, you know, Obama's back. He's back." I don't know where he thinks he made gains if he's trying to specifically appeal to women. Women, more than men, are turned off when it gets below the belt.