-President Barack Obama, remarks on the deaths of US embassy staff in Benghazi, delivered in the Rose Garden on September 12, 2012.
It's the moment that will probably be best remembered from last night's debate. Mitt Romney took the opportunity to once again exploit the deaths of Americans for political gain -- and got it all balled up and wrong. Kevin Drum has the exchange (full transcript here):
ROMNEY: I think it's interesting the president just said something, which — which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.
OBAMA: That’s what I said.
ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror? It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying?
OBAMA: Please proceed governor.
When the president told Romney to "please proceed," he clearly saw where this was heading. He might as well have said, "You go ahead and take all the rope you think you need." Then came all the beauty:
ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.
OBAMA: Get the transcript.
CROWLEY: He did in fact, sir. So let me — let me call it an act of terror....
OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?
Mitt was handed a "I have no earthly idea what the hell I'm talking about sign" and made to hold it up for everyone to see. Through bad debate prep, he'd humiliated himself.
But personally, I think the most damaging exchange for Romney came in the discussion of women's issues. Romney would not say whether he would've signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act into law and bizarrely suggested that his interactions with female hires was limited to looking at their names in binders. He suggested that women need more flexible schedules so they can go home and cook dinner. Nearly his entire answer was a misstep. Romney was way off in left field throughout this whole segment, never once addressing the question, which was, "In what new ways to you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?" But that still wasn't the worst. In my opinion, this was:
ROMNEY: We're going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy I'm going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they're going to be anxious to hire women. In the -- in the last women have lost 580,000 jobs. That's the net of what's happened in the last four years. We're still down 580,000 jobs. I mentioned 31/2 million women, more now in poverty than four years ago.
Basically, what he's saying here is that he plans to create so many jobs that employers won't be able to afford to be picky and they'll have to resort to hiring women; they're going to have to hire you lady people, even if it means you have to slack off and run home early to fix dinner for your breadwinner husband. Seriously, what the hell? It's like he's completely unaware that the second half of the twentieth century ever happened. Mitt's "solution" to workplace inequality would make women the canaries in the job market coal mine. When things start to turn south, they'll be the first to be cut loose, because women were the ones employers settled for -- not the ones they wanted. Seems to me that's not so much a solution to inequality as it is a continuation of it.
And President Obama made Romney look terribly out-of-touch by pointing out the obvious fact (obvious to everyone but conservatives, anyway) that women's health is an economic issue.
OBAMA:...When Governor Romney says that we should eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, there are millions of women all across the country, who rely on Planned Parenthood for, not just contraceptive care, they rely on it for mammograms, for cervical cancer screenings. That's a pocketbook issue for women and families all across the country. And it makes a difference in terms of how well and effectively women are able to work. When we talk about child care, and the credits that we're providing. That makes a difference in whether they can go out there and -- and earn a living for their family.
These are not just women's issues. These are family issues. These are economic issues.
As I said, the Libya exchange is the one everyone will remember. But I think the exchange on women's issues is where Mitt Romney was most heavily wounded. The right seems convinced that everyone's going to start freaking out over Benghazi any minute now -- and it's just not happening. Meanwhile, women are fighting for their rights and their equality right now.
And, by dropping the "Moderate Mitt" act and firing off a few shots in the GOP's War on Women, Romney made it clear last night that they're fighting against people like him.