Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign clarified on Wednesday that the former Massachusetts governor supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first bill signed into law by President Obama that was opposed by many Republicans at the time.
“He supports pay equity and is not looking to change current law,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told Talking Points Memo.
The law — signed by Obama in 2009 and meant to stop women from getting paid less than men — gives more flexibility for workers to sue employees for wage discrimination. Republicans and groups like the National Association of Manufacturers argued at the time that the law would lead to unwarranted lawsuits.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, while campaigning for president in 2008, came out against the bill.
“I am all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind of legislation, as is typical of what’s being proposed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems,” McCain said in 2008. “This is government playing a much, much greater role in the business of a private enterprise system.”
Romney’s campaign found itself in an awkward position Wednesday when a reporter for The Huffington Post asked about the candidate’s position on the law during a conference call with advisers.
After a pause, an adviser told the reporter that they would have to get back later with an answer.
Before Romney’s campaign got back with that answer, the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee used the awkward pause from the conference call to accuse Romney of having a problem attracting women voters — a theme they continue to try to paint.
It isn’t the first time Democrats have tried to get Romney to take a position on an issue that could alienate women voters, only to have Romney agree with Obama.
Last week, after Obama called on the Augusta National Golf Club — home of the Masters — to allow women to be members of the club, Romney said: “Certainly if I were a member, if I could run Augusta, which isn’t likely to happen, of course I’d have women into Augusta.”