WASHINGTON -- Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner threw water on one of GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's claims about the economy and women, saying Sunday that it is "ridiculous" to imply the president is to blame for high unemployment among women.
"It's misleading and ridiculous. It's just a political moment," Geithner told CBS's Bob Scheiffer on "Face the Nation," adding that the quality of debate over economic policy is "really terrible."
Geithner was referring to a statistic cited by Romney this week on women who lost jobs during President Barack Obama's time in office. Romney said that 92.3 percent of the jobs lost during that period were held by women, which he said was "the real war on women."
The statement was promptly debunked by experts who pointed out that more men have lost jobs since the beginning of the recession, and that statistics can be easy to manipulate.
Geithner said that many men lost jobs early in the recession, when construction and manufacturing were hit hard. When schools began to lay off teachers later, many women lost their jobs. He acknowledged that more of the jobs lost recently have belonged to women, but said it didn't mean Romney's overall premise was correct.
"But it's a meaningless way to look at the basic contours of the economy in that period of time, again because it starts artificially at a time when the president came into office and the crisis was still building momentum," he said.
The Romney campaign showed no sign of backing off of the statement, though, when adviser Ed Gillespie appeared on "Fox News Sunday." Host Chris Wallace said the figure was "a little bit of an accounting trick" and pointed out that several reputable news organizations had debunked it.
Gillespie brushed the criticism off, saying many of those fact-checks had a liberal bent.
"More men than women lost jobs before President Obama took office, more women lost jobs since Obama took office," he said. "That's a bad thing and we need to reverse that."