McDonnell: 'Good idea' to laugh about 'binders' remark

"This is a serious campaign, and I think a laugh or two here is a good idea," McDonnell, a top surrogate for the Romney campaign, told CNN's "Starting Point." "Hopefully, the Catholic charities event [Thursday night] will get a few more of those."

Both Romney and President Obama will be attending the Alfred E. Smith Memorial dinner Thursday in New York City, where politicians typically crack jokes at their own — and their opponent's — expense. McDonnell went on to say that Romney had posted serious gains with women in recent polls, and suggested the Obama campaign had seized on the "binders" comment out of desperation.

"Mitt Romney's point was that he actually affirmatively went out to make sure he had great, competent, qualified women," McDonnell said. "At one point he had more women in his Cabinet than any governor in the country. That was the point. I'm glad the Obama administration is having fun with it. The point is that this race is now clearly going in the way of Mitt Romney because he's a serious candidate."

But the Romney campaign seems to be taking the attack seriously, releasing a video to supporters Thursday featuring female members of Romney's Cabinet. And the "binders" comment has taken fire on the Internet, where social media sites have been flooded with jokes riffing off the offhand comment.

“And I said, ‘Well, gosh, can’t we — can’t we find some, some women that are also qualified?' ” Romney said. “I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks?’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.”

Social media quickly flooded with jokes about the remark, with a Tumblr page and Twitter handle poking fun at the comment earning tens of thousands of shares.

McDonnell was also asked about a new study from the Tax Policy Center that again suggested that the Romney tax plan would not be able to achieve his desired cuts without either adding to the deficit or increasing the effective tax rate on the middle class.

"If you look at credible reports from American Enterprise Institute and Princeton University, you've got on contrary view on that," McDonnell said. "There are studies, I think, on both sides."