Commentary: Mitt Romney's Math Problem with Women

The presumed Republican presidential nominee should check President Obama’s double-digit lead and see the reasons for it.

Posted: 04/18/2012 03:20 PM EDT

Mitt Romney has a math problem.

 

He needs 270 electoral votes to win the presidency, but he's facing a well-funded Democrat who beat the last Republican, 365-173, in the Electoral College. Romney's also fighting against history. Only one Republican has defeated a sitting Democratic president for re-election in the past 120 years.

So in order to win the presidency, Romney will say and do anything — no matter how dishonest — to convince people to abandon the incumbent president who brought us back from the brink of a second great depression, rescued the auto industry and took out Osama bin Laden.

His primary tactic is misinformation.

Last week, Romney told the National Rifle Association (NRA) that freedom is not safe in America "because unelected, unaccountable regulators are always on the prowl." And he blamed President Obama for "multiplying" the number of regulators. "The number of federal employees has grown by almost 150,000 under this president,” he told the NRA.

The fact checkers at The Washington Post looked at Romney's claim and found it misleading. The increase in federal workers "largely comes from the military — which Romney has also pledged to boost — and homeland security," the Post concluded. "The rate of non-military growth in government jobs under Obama is not exceptional at all," the paper found.

That leads us directly to another misleading Romney statement. Faced with dropping poll numbers among women, the Romney campaign hit back this month with a claim that "women account for 92.3 percent of the jobs lost under Obama."

The reporters at PolitiFact examined that claim and found it "mostly false." By choosing figures from January 2009, months into the recession, "the statement ignored the millions of jobs lost before then, when most of the job loss fell on men," Politifact found.

But here's the kicker. Sixty-four percent of the job losses among women during that period came from the decline in government jobs. So while one side of Mitt Romney's face is blaming Obama for "multiplying" and increasing government workers, the other side of his face is blaming Obama for the effects of cutting government workers. But you can't have it both ways. To paraphrase Mark Twain, "I'm not worried about figures lying. I'm worried about liars figuring."

This is Mitt Romney's biggest math problem. Women make up the majority of the population, but Obama leads Romney by 16 percent among women. So when CNN contributor Hilary Rosen recently noted that Romney's double Cadillac-driving wife, Ann, "hasn't worked a day in her life," the Romney campaign desperately tried to use Rosen's words to make the implausible connection that somehow President Obama thinks stay-at-home moms don't work hard.

Ann Romney even took to Twitter to post her first-ever tweet: "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work," she said. Maybe so, but her husband, on the other hand, was not so interested in protecting the "choice" of poor women who want to raise their kids. "Even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work," Romney told a young woman in New Hampshire back in January.  

You see, a few months ago, Romney was still trying to convince Republicans that he was a "severely conservative" governor of Massachusetts. Now, he's trying to convince the rest of us that he's really not who he said he was during the entire primary season.

But even for a serial flip-flopper like Mitt, his conflicting comments about women in the workplace are bound to catch up to him. You don't have to be a math major to count to two. You only need to look at both sides of Mitt Romney's face.


Keith Boykin is a New York Times best-selling author and former White House aide to President Clinton. He attended Harvard Law School with President Barack Obama and currently serves as a TV political commentator. He writes political commentary for BET.com each week.


The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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