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Obama Backs Admission of Women to Augusta Golf Club

April 6 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney have come out against the all-male membership rule at Georgia’s Augusta National Golf Club, home to the Masters Tournament.

“His personal opinion is that women should be admitted to the club,” Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney said yesterday in response to a question at a White House briefing. “It’s obviously up to the club to decide.”

“If I were a member, and if I could run Augusta, which isn’t likely to happen, but of course I’d have women in Augusta. Sure,” Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, told a reporter who questioned him on the topic at a campaign stop in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania.

Bloomberg News revived the debate when it reported on March 28 the conflict between Augusta’s men-only membership policy and Virginia “Ginni” Rometty, the new chief executive officer of International Business Machines Corp.

IBM, Exxon Mobil Corp. and AT&T Inc. are sponsors for the Masters, which is holding its second round today at Georgia’s Augusta National, where no woman has been offered membership since its founding eight decades ago. Historically, the club has offered a membership to the CEO of IBM, allowing him to don the club’s green member blazer.

Club Chairman Billy Payne said he wouldn’t discuss the organization’s lack of female members.

Edward Barbini, a spokesman for Armonk, New York-based IBM, declined to comment after the remarks by the White House and Romney. He also declined to say whether Rometty or her predecessor at IBM, Sam Palmisano, would attend.

To contact the reporter on this story: Catherine Dodge in Washington at cdodge1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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