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Barack Obama, Democrats Hit Mitt Romney on Pay Equity

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Sen. Barbara Mikulski has led the charge for the Paycheck Fairness Act.

“Of course Governor Romney supports pay equity for women,” campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said. But “in order to have pay equity, women need to have jobs, and they have been getting crushed in this anemic Obama economy, losing far more jobs than men. As president, Mitt Romney will create a pro-jobs business climate that will put all Americans back to work.”

On the conference calls, however, there was a repeated push for the GOP presidential nominee to endorse the bill itself, not just the topic.

“Mitt Romney and Republican candidates across the country need to stand up and say whether they will support this effort to address the serious financial challenges facing women and families,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said on an Americans United for Change conference call.

“I’d make a $10,000 bet that Mitt Romney won’t say where he stands on fair pay because he opposes it,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said. She said Romney knows his position is a loser with voters “so he’s choosing not to tell us where he stands.”

She also promised to let women know “who’s fought for them and who’s on the wrong side of history” heading into November.

On another call, Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) urged Romney to endorse the bill, before handing the call over to senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett.

“We’re committed to the basic idea that equal pay for equal work is not a luxury, it is a necessity,” she said. “We know that we’re in for a fight, but it’s a fight we can win as long as we all work together.”

Jarrett dismissed a question about the possibility of Obama issuing an executive order imposing the law’s requirements on government contractors.

“Our efforts right now are devoted to getting this act passed,” she said. “There is no interest right now in talking about a fallback.”

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who has led the charge for the bill, said “the rational argument and the emotional argument is on our side.” The Maryland Democrat said the question is whether there will be flexibility for “moderate-thinking, fair-minded Republicans” to vote for it.

Mikulski said there have been discussions with Republicans urging them to back the bill, but she said those were confidential. Democrats wanted to pass the bill in the first two years of the Obama administration, but that effort fell short when they lost their 60-vote supermajority in early 2010, Mikulski said.

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