In contrast to the views of traditional conservatives, former Governor Mitt Romney (R,Ma) has called for a raise in the minimum wage. Romney made the comments on the show "Morning Show" on MSNBC, according to ABC News on Friday. Romney based his comments on the belief that the Republican party is "about more jobs and better pay." Romney went on to state that he believed that communicating that message is important and that workers, especially those in the Hispanic community, need to be convinced "that our party will help them get better jobs and better wages."
Romney, who ran as the GOP Presidential candidate in 2012, never has been considered a die-hard conservative by those within the ranks of his own party. This was especially apparent when it came to the health care issue because Romney had instituted his own health care plan in Massachusetts that was very similar to Obama Care (Affordable Care Act) a few years prior to the 2012 Presidential election. The program, referred to as RomneyCare, made it difficult if not impossible for Romney to run against Obama Care with any semblance of credibility. When asked to explain how he could be the proponent of RomneyCare on one hand and oppose Obama Care on the other, Romney only was able to say that although RomneyCare was good for Massachusetts, that it was only one state and that the system would not work for the entire nation. The argument did not fly with the American People, nor with many Republicans who felt that Romney was trying to conceal the fact that he really was a moderate and not a conservative at all.
This latest call for a raise in the minimum wage from Romney may put him at odds with conservatives in his own party even further. Conservatives point to the fact that a recent CBO (Congressional Budget Office) study said that increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 could cost the country up to half a million jobs.
Romney is not completely without allies within his own ranks, however. Former GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum, whose conservative credentials far outweigh those of Romney, said that it was not right to deprive blue collar workers a wage increase. Santorum stated:
“Let’s not make this argument that, you know, we’re for the blue collar guy but we’re against any minimum wage increase, ever. It just makes no sense.”
Santorum highlighted the fact that currently the minimum wage covers only around 5 percent of the workers, but that it should cover up to 7 percent of them. He stated:
“We should try to keep it in the 7 percent range, whatever gets you to 7 percent."
Former Governor Tim Pawlenty (R,Mn) also expressed his support for a minimum wage increase, stating:
“The Republicans should support reasonable increase in the minimum wage. If you’re going to talk the talk about being for the middle class and the working person, if we have a minimum wage, it should be reasonably adjusted from time to time.”
More traditional conservative Republicans, however, made their opposition to the minimum wage hike known without equivocation. Senator Mike Enzi (R,Wy) stated that a raise would:
“Shut the employment door on the very individuals they’re trying to help."
Florida Governor Rick Scott took a defeatist attitude toward the idea of a minimum wage increase, stating that if the increase were enacted, that the workers still would not be able to meet their financial obligations. He stated:
"Even if we did raise the minimum wage, working families will still not be able to make ends meet on those jobs."
In sharp contrast to Scott, Senator Chuck Schumner (D,Ny) had nothing but praise for Romney:
“I thank Governor Romney for urging Republicans to do the right thing. Republican opposition to raising the minimum wage is slowly crumbling. Each day brings a new Republican voice urging the Senate to act. We will keep bringing this bill up until it passes, because everyone who works full time deserves a fair shot at getting out of poverty.”
Many observers believe that Romney may be moving towards another bid for the Republican nomination in 2016. If so, it will not be the first time that a defeated Presidential nominee has made a second run for the Presidency. Adlai Stevenson II (D) who was defeated in 1952, attained the nomination of his party again in 1956. Richard Nixon, who was defeated in 1960, attained the nomination of the GOP again in 1968 and was elected. Hubert Humphrey, who was defeated in 1968, tried for the nomination again in 1972 but was defeated by Senator George McGovern (D,Sd).
A second run for the nomination of one's party by a previously defeated Presidential nominee is uncommon but certainly not out of the question. The real question is whether or not Romney can stomach another series of tough primary campaigns and challenging televised debates and town hall meetings. The Presidential trail is not a bed of roses, and can turn into a bed of thorns in a flash. The next few months will reveal just who is up to the task from within the ranks of both major political parties.