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'Binders of women' remark could both help and hurt Romney

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Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney smiles before the start of the Republican Party of Florida presidential candidates debate in Orlan
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney smiles before the start of the Republican Party of Florida presidential candidates debate in Orlan

KALAMAZOO (WKZO) -- Although candidates participating in a political debate practice extensively before they have to appear, they typically are expected to be extemporaneous; somewhat "off the cuff."

That's where the challenges can be, according to public speaking and political science experts.

Republican GOP nominee Mitt Romney, in trying to illustrate he is interested in making sure women are well represented statistically in the workplace, referred to his tenure as governor of Massachusetts. Romney said he appealed to women's groups and associations in an attempt to encourage female applicants for various positions, and they came back with "binders of women" as possible applicants.

The remark exploded on social media, as Americans responded to various aspects of the debate.

Western Michigan University Associate Professor of Political Science Peter Wielhouwer tells WKZO the results are mixed.

"It was a reasonable answer and I think it actually may have helped him overall with women, with whom he has a problem in the polling," Wielhouwer said. "But the word choice...was very awkward."

Wielhouwer said the remark underscores the importance of debates - and that word choice might be nearly as important as the actual message a speaker is trying to convey.

Hear the whole interview from The Lori Moore Show with Peter Wielhouwer here.

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