During last night’s town hall debate at Hofstra University, my opponent Mr. Obama made a number of false accusations about my political positions, but none more egregious than his claim that my policies are in some way a threat to American women. As he has throughout this long campaign season, the president charged that I’m not advocating enough for women’s rights, that I’m ignoring the needs of hardworking mothers and daughters—in short, a litany of lies designed to convince undecided voters that I’m woefully indifferent to the needs of this country’s women.
So to Mr. Obama and all the undecided Americans out there, let me now ask you this simple question: Would a man who doesn’t support women let his wife pick out any oven she wants for her birthday?
Let me say it again: Would a man who’s supposedly out-of-touch with the needs of today’s women hand over his credit card to his wife for the day, say “here you go, honey,” and let her buy whatever oven her heart desires? With a new set of cutlery to boot?
My opponent would no doubt say, “Yeah, right. A man like Mitt Romney would never let his wife go to Sears.com and pick out any oven she wants, especially when there’s nothing wrong with the one she already has.” Well, I hate to break it to you, Mr. President, but that’s exactly what I did. When Ann turned 63 this year, I gave her explicit permission to purchase any oven on the market. Green, brown, blue, brick, ceramic—it didn’t matter to me, so long as Ann was happy and ran her final choice by me first.
Now does that sound like a policy from someone who doesn’t respect women?
After all, the kitchen is her space. I call it “Ann’s part of the house.” Like millions of wives and mothers across America, she’s a strong, independent woman who deserves every opportunity to grow and thrive without being told what to do in the privacy of her own home. That’s why I let her decide everything about the kitchen: what color she wants to paint it, what food she wants to buy, what meals she wants to make. In fact, I make a point of never going in there if I can help it, especially if Ann is cooking or cleaning. I give her full rein over the whole kitchen.
Who was it that let her decide where we went on vacation this year, and the year before that? Who was it that let her pick out almost all of my dress shirts? Who was it that said, “Sure, you can have your book club meeting at our house,” even though it meant ceding the living room to 10 of her chattering friends for an entire night? That’s right: me. Mitt Romney. So no one on this earth, neither the president nor his increasingly belligerent league of supporters, can accuse Mitt Romney of undermining the progress of women.
If anyone can attest to my long record of inclusion and equality on women’s issues, believe me, it’s Ann Romney. Over the course of my campaign for the presidency, she’s been there every step of the way, standing beside me at important speeches, helping me host fundraising events, and tagging along on various business trips. At the Republican National Convention in Florida this year, I even let her get up on stage and recite my policies in front of my supporters. That was a pretty big deal for her!
And as someone who believes women can and do make valuable contributions to the workplace, I’ve made a point of including Ann in my professional life as well. When I was CEO of Bain Capital, I’d often invite her to the office—the very same office, mind you, where I conducted business with powerful men from all over the world—and let her file documents, or send some faxes off before a big meeting. Of course, I supervised her quite closely to make sure she did everything correctly, but that’s only natural when money is on the line.
As you might expect, she did a bang-up job! I even invited her back the next day to answer some phone calls. That’s how much trust I put in Ann, and that’s how much trust I put in women all across America.
So as the election draws near and my opponent continues his unrelenting mission to distort my record on women’s issues, I simply ask you to look at the relationships in my personal life, as those often speak louder than words. And I’m sure if Ann were allowed to talk about it, she would say the exact same thing.