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April 30, 2017

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Obama, Romney seek support from women after US presidential debate

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney vied aggressively for the support of female voters, accusing each other of failing America's women as they fought to keep up the momentum after their contentious, finger-pointing debate.

At issue Wednesday was the candidates' approach to gender pay equity laws and Romney's comment during the debate that he was sent "binders full of women" when he was governor of Massachusetts.

Romney made the remark while recalling that he looked to women's organizations after being dissatisfied with the mostly male applicants for senior level positions in his administration. But it set off a storm of media parodies, and Obama jumped on the comment to try to portray Romney as out of step with the concerns of women.

"We don't have to collect a bunch of binders to find qualified, talented, driven young women," Obama said at a rally in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

There was little mystery in the candidates' focus on women. An AP-GfK survey taken in mid-September, when Obama was leading in the opinion polls, found that 8 percent of all likely votes were women who were either undecided or said they might change their minds.

Polls since the first debate two weeks ago, when Obama fared poorly, show gains for Romney among women voters. That's a shift the Democratic president can ill afford given the traditional Republican advantage among men. But Obama's Tuesday night debate performance was much stronger than the first time around, and he was staying on the attack on the campaign trail Wednesday.

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