US President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally at
Cornell College in Mt Vernon, Iowa. REUTERS/Jason Reed
US President Barack Obama bounced off a strong debate
performance to target women voters with a dig at Republican
Mitt Romney's comment that he received "binders full of women"
for cabinet jobs when he was governor of Massachusetts.
Obama and Romney are eager to win over women in swing states
such as Iowa and Ohio, where the Democratic incumbent was
campaigning a day after his energetic debating rejuvenated
his re-election campaign.
During the second presidential debate on Tuesday night,
Romney noted he had been given "whole binders full of women"
when looking for candidates for his cabinet. The awkward
phrase quickly took off in social media and critics suggested
the remark showed Romney had few women in his inner circle.
"We should make sure all our young people, our daughters as
well as our sons, are thriving in these fields" of science,
technology, engineering and mathematics, Obama told a
cheering crowd of some 2,000 people in Mount Vernon, Iowa.
"I've got to tell you, we don't have to collect a bunch of
binders to find qualified, talented, driven young women ready
to learn and teach in these fields right now," he said. "And
when young women graduate, they should get equal pay for
One of Romney's top aides during his governorship was Beth
Myers, who served as his chief of staff from 2003-2007 and
has been a key adviser in his presidential campaign.
Obama has delivered several high-profile jobs to women since
taking office, including Hillary Clinton as secretary of
state and Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan as US Supreme Court
At the Iowa campaign rally, Obama also hammered Romney for
wanting to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, a women's
With his sleeves rolled up and his tie loosened, Obama seemed
energized by his own debate performance, which the campaign
hopes will erase memories of his listless appearance in the
first debate that gave a bounce to challenger Romney in
A Reuters/Ipsos online poll on Wednesday showed 48 percent of
registered voters said Obama won Tuesday's debate, while 33
percent say Romney prevailed.
However, Obama made it clear he was not on a victory lap as
he returned to the campaign trail.
"I'm still trying to figure out ... how to get the hang of
this thing, debating," he said. "But we're working on it. You
know, we'll keep on improving as time goes on."
The last presidential debate before the Nov. 6 election will
be held on Monday.
Obama also seized the opportunity to press his attack on
Romney over his economic proposals.
"Everybody here has heard of the New Deal. You've heard of
the Fair Deal. You've heard of the Square Deal. Mitt Romney's
trying to sell you a sketchy deal," Obama said. "We are not
buying it. We know better."