Last time it was Big Bird. This time it was "binders full of women."
In response to a question about unequal pay for women at Tuesday's debate, Republican nominee Mitt Romney said that as governor of Massachusetts, he made an effort to seek qualified women for his cabinet. He said he 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 awkwardly phrased comment sent social media into a frenzy within minutes, spawning mocking Twitter accounts (@romneys_binder, 14,100+ followers), Facebook pages (Binders Full of Women, 265,000+ likes), and a Tumblr account, as well as countless animated graphics and photo manipulations. The one below, for example, is a play on Patrick Swayze's line from the movie Dirty Dancing: "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."
President Barack Obama's supporters immediately seized the opportunity. A liberal PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, bought the domain name bindersfullofwomen.com and launched a website criticizing Romney's record on women's issues.
Whether such Internet memes have any effect on how people will vote is unclear, but there's no doubt the online buzz will ensure Romney's off-the-cuff remark continues to be a topic for water-cooler discussions in the aftermath of the debate. The phrase "binders full of women" was Google’s number-three trending search last night.
A cautionary tale for politics in the age of social media?