Romney pushed back, calling the president's statement "completely and totally wrong." While not opposing the availability of contraception, Romney opposes the contraception rule, arguing it forces some religious institutions to go against their faith.
After the debate, Democratic pundits criticized Romney's efforts to hire women.
"What it demonstrates here and why these debates are important because they're a window into what people are really thinking and how they operate," former Clinton adviser and Democratic analyst Richard Socarides said on CNN's Early Start. "Here's a situation where, you know, it should have been readily apparent to anyone that there were plenty of qualified women but they had to make this special effort."
Socarides gave Romney points for trying to hire women but said in doing so, "Romney demonstrates that he's living in another world." "Qualified women should be apparent to everyone," added Socarides.
He said he didn't understand why Romney "has to go out and make this special effort to find women."
And though Romney sought to highlight his support of flexible work schedules for women, his reference to women who need such schedules to race home to make dinner for their families may have ruffled some female voters the wrong way.
"His discussion of work-life balance appeared condescending to some because of the reference to women cooking dinner," Gillespie said.
Romney will now have to rebuff the Obama campaign's attempts to define him as someone who is anti-woman, political experts say.
Romney campaign surrogate Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said one reason more women may be looking to vote for Romney is because of his economic message.
"The Number One issue with women is jobs and the economy," Blackburn said on CNN's Early Start recently.
The former governor will have to do more of this type of messaging if he wants to sway this group, Bose said.
Romney, she said, will have to hammer home the message "what's good for women is good for the country."