Team Romney Stumbles On Ledbetter Question

By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown
By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown

(CNN) – The Mitt Romney campaign's failure to answer a reporter's question Wednesday over the support of an equal-pay for women law was quickly pounced on by President Barack Obama's campaign, marking the first skirmish of the general election now that Romney is the apparent GOP nominee.

On a conference call with reporters, Romney campaign surrogates were asked if the candidate supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act that expands workers' rights to sue if a pay discrepancy between a man and woman exists.

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The reply: "We'll get back to you on that," Romney Campaign Policy Director Lanhee Chen said.

Chen was one of three participants on the call that focused on what the campaign has called the Obama administration's "war on women," a reaction to the co-called Romney "war on women" perpetuated by critics of the former Massachusetts governor.

Romney Campaign Spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg reacted to Wednesday's call saying Romney supports pay equity, but did not expressly say whether the candidate was in favor on the Ledbetter law.

"Women account for more than 92% of jobs lost under Barack Obama. Of course Mitt Romney supports pay equity for women. The real question is whether President Obama supports jobs for women," Henneberg said in a statement.

Team Romney also sent a graph detailing female job losses since Obama took office, continuing the campaign's narrative over the last few days.

A campaign representative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Romney "supports pay equity and is not looking to change current law."

But the Obama campaign quickly capitalized on the call, issuing a statement from Ledbetter that criticized Romney for failing to "stand up for women and their families." The 2009 Act, inspired by a case involving Ledbetter, was the first bill signed into law by the president.

"If he is truly concerned about women in this economy, he wouldn't have to take time to 'think' about whether he supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act," Ledbetter said in the statement. "Anyone who wants to be President of the United States shouldn't have to think about whether they support pursuing every possible avenue to ensuring women get the same pay for the same work as men."

Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod said the comment would constitute a "tough day" for the Romney campaign.

"Tough day on the Mitt Rehab With Women Tour. On call, his team punts when asked if he supports the Lily Ledbetter pay equity law," Axelrod wrote via Twitter.

– CNN's Peter Hamby contributed to this report.

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