Former GOP leaders speak in favor of minimum wage hike

BY Chelsea Coatney  May 9, 2014 at 2:29 PM EDT
Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney came out in favor of raising the minimum wage Thursday. Photo by Paul Marotta/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney came out in favor of raising the minimum wage Thursday. Photo by Paul Marotta/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

A week after Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour nationwide, 2012 GOP presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney came out in support of a minimum wage increase.

“I, for instance, as you know, part company with many of the conservatives in my party on the issue of the minimum wage. I think we ought to raise it,” he said Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “Because frankly, our party is all about more jobs and better pay.”

Romney supported a minimum wage increase as governor, and during the beginning of his 2012 presidential campaign, but changed his position amid conservative criticism in the lead up to Super Tuesday.

His comments on Thursday are in opposition with the vast majority of the Republican Party, though he does join a short list of former GOP presidential candidates who have come out in support of the increase to $10.10. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum both recently spoke in favor of a minimum wage increase.

Pawlenty cited the GOP’s history of support for blue-collar workers, while Santorum spoke of the support the proposed increase has garnered from the American people.

Romney added, “I also believe the key for our party is to be able to convince the people who are in the working population — particularly in the Hispanic community — that our party will help them get better jobs and wages. And that’s what our party’s beliefs do.”

One Republican — Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee — voted for the minimum wage bill in the Democrat-held Senate last week, where it failed to garner the necessary 60 votes.