Everyone is having a good at laugh over Mitt Romney's "binders full of women" line from last night's debate, but given our current obsession with fact checking it's no surprise that there are also questions about whether the binder story is even true. David Bernstein of The Phoenix in Boston got a post up last night questioning Mitt's recollection of events. According to Bernstein, the mythical binder did indeed exist, but it was given to Governor Romney by outside activists and not at his request.
A group called MassGAP put together the list in 2002—before Romney was elected governor of Massachusetts—as part of an overall effort to push to get more women into senior leadership positions in state government. They say they approached Romney with the binder as he was putting together his cabinet, not the other way around. Here's the quote again for clarification:
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.
A small distinction, but potentially an important one, if Romney wants to claim that it was his initiative to recruit more women. And Romney does deserve credit for heeding their advice it seems, giving more than 40 percent of his senior appointments to women, though Bernstein claims they were given the least important cabinet jobs. He also claims that the total number of women holding "senior-level" positions declined over the course of his term, leaving Massachusetts with fewer women in leadership than when he took office.
Finally, there's the hidden assumption behind his entire anecdote: That Mitt Romney apparently got elected to be the governor of a state without personally knowing any women qualified to work in government.