Since Mitt Romney's infamous "binders full of women" comment at last week's debate, the battle for women's votes has once again become a major focus of the 2012 presidential election. And though the third debate focused on foreign policy rather than domestic issues, which include reproductive rights and the gender pay gap, women were no less interested in what both candidates had to say.
In fact, women may actually be more invested in some of these foreign policy issues than men are. According to a USA Today poll conducted on October 15th, women voters in swing states were 10 percent more likely than male voters to say that defense and terrorism were "extremely important" and would be influencing who they choose to vote for come November 6th.
As Heather Hurlburt points out in an article for U.S. News:
...commentators, media and campaigns are dropping women back into our binders to focus on serious matters such as the exact wording of CIA talking points ... No doubt they think that women, still worrying about abortion, jobs for our menfolk, and healthcare for our children, won't be paying attention ... This just might be a mistake.
Hurlburt, the executive director of the National Security Network, a DC-based non-profit focused on foreign policy, also outlined what women value most when it comes to candidates' foreign policy platforms. "Women are very concerned about security, perhaps more so than men," she writes. "But they don't like the language of threats, violence and bluster."
Tonight both candidates touched on core foreign policy issues, largely focusing on national security. They discussed the the Benghazi attacks, Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden's death, the end of the Iraq War, the war in Syria, Egypt's new government, the way that Obama and Romney view America's role on the world stage, defense spending, the United States' alliance with Israel, U.S. policy on China and Pakistan's nuclear capabilities. Both candidates mentioned the important of increasing support for women around the world, as well as trying to steer the foreign policy debate back to domestic issues like education, taxes and Medicaid.
Noticeably absent from the discussion was global poverty, climate change, human trafficking and the drug war. (But there is already a "Horses and Bayonets" Tumblr account. Thank you, Internet.)
Only time (specifically two weeks) will tell whether Romney or Obama succeeded in swaying female voters tonight, but what is clear is that these are issues that women deeply care about -- and they're not afraid to say so.
LOOK: Women React To The Third Presidential Debate