Posted at 02:18 PM ET, 04/15/2012

Geithner: Romney camp’s claims on women and job losses ‘ridiculous and very misleading’

This post has been updated.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner on Sunday pushed back against the argument made by Mitt Romney’s camp and others that the overwhelming majority of jobs lost under the Obama administration had been held by women.

In a series of Sunday show appearances, Geithner called the GOP claim “ridiculous and very misleading” and argued that “you have to look at the whole duration of the recession.”

“The recession started in 2008, early in that year,” Geithner said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “It was a year in the making before President Obama came into office, and it was very damaging to everybody, to families, men and women across the country.”

He noted, as Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler and others have pointed out, that “the early job losses were felt mostly by men, because they happened in construction, in manufacturing across the economy, and as the crisis intensified over the course of ’08 and the government started to feel the pressure, they had to cut back on teachers.”

“A lot of women are teachers, so you saw the later effects as the crisis spread to women, too,” Geithner added.

On ABC’s “This Week,” Geithner said the argument that 92 percent of jobs lost during the Obama administration had been held by women has been “largely debunked.”

“To borrow a line from [former New York governor] Mario Cuomo, you’re going to see a lot of politicians choose to campaign in fiction, but we have to govern in fact,” he told host George Stephanopoulos.

Republicans seized on the statistic in an effort to push back against Democratic claims that the GOP is waging a “war on women.” The real war on women, Republicans have argued, has been waged by Democrats who have instituted economic policies resulting in vast job losses for women.

“No amount of spin by the Obama campaign can hide the enormous damage this president has done to American women,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “If they move the starting point to the beginning of their so-called recovery, they will find women have benefited from less than one-eighth of the meager job creation. The President should stop making excuses for his failures – he is entitled to his own spin but not his own facts.”

But the Romney camp’s use of the statistic has come under some criticism over the past week, and not from Democrats alone.

Chris Wallace, the host of “Fox News Sunday,” said during an interview with Romney adviser Ed Gillespie on Sunday morning that he believed the claim was “a little bit of an accounting trick.”

Pressed by Wallace on the statistic, Gillespie acknowledged Sunday that “more men than women lost jobs before President Obama took office; more women lost jobs since President Obama took office.”

“The fact that more men lost before he took office doesn’t make it a good thing that more lost since he took office,” he said. “It’s a bad thing, and we need to reverse that.”

By  |  02:18 PM ET, 04/15/2012

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