Building on the story Mitt Romney told in Tuesday's debate about seeking qualified women for his Massachusetts cabinet, his campaign released a video on Wednesday that features three of the former governor's female cabinet members.
"He totally gets working women," Ellen Roy Herzfelder, former state secretary of Environmental Affairs, says in the video. "Especially women like myself who had two young kids. I needed flexibility."
The video also features Jane C. Edmonds, former director of the Department of Workforce Development, and Beth Lindstrom, former director of the Massachusetts Office Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.
Romney claimed on Tuesday night that as governor of Massachusetts, he noticed a lack of qualified female applicants for cabinet positions. “I said, ‘Well, gosh, can’t we -- can’t we find some, some women that are also qualified?” he recalled. “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.”
Romney's claim was widely refuted on Wednesday by women who had worked with him in 2002 to recruit female candidates. A bipartisan coalition of women's groups called MassGAP said it had actually approached Romney before his election and asked him to pledge to appoint more women to high-level roles if he were elected. MassGAP then encouraged him by handing him the binder full of resumes once he was in office.
“It was an initiative of women’s organizations, not to force [Romney’s] hand, but to make it be something he had to follow through on,” Carol Hardy-Fanta, former co-chair of MassGAP’s higher education subcommittee, told The Huffington Post. "He didn't go out looking for these binders.”
Romney's campaign said on Wednesday that it didn't matter whose initiative it was to appoint the women, because Romney enthusiastically cooperated. "The incoming Romney administration worked with MassGAP to find the best qualified women for top positions in Massachusetts government," Amanda Henneberg, a Romney campaign spokeswoman, said in an email to The Huffington Post. "The efforts resulted in Massachusetts having the most women in top positions in the entire country."