With just 16 days to the election, as mouthpieces on both sides again took to the Sunday morning talk shows, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., took center stage on more than one show, perhaps in an effort to boost Mitt Romney’s favorability in Rubio's vital home state.
The most recent polling numbers out of Florida have Obama and Romney in an effective tie. Florida NBC affiliate WPTV reported that depite a Gallup poll from earlier in the week that had Romney up by seven points, the Republican candidate now only has 48 percent of the vote to Obama’s 47 percent. The poll, orchestrated by North Carolina-based Public Policy Polly, also found 4 percent of voters still undecided and as many of 80 percent “very enthusiastic” about the election.
It’s in this context that Rubio sat down Sunday morning with ABC’s “This Week” and NBC’s “Meet the Press” and tried to help his fellow Republican win. Rubio defended Romney’s answers in the second debate regarding what he’s done for women, calling Obama’s Lily Ledbetter Act a blessing for lawyers. The law, which was the first piece of legislation Obama signed when he assumed office in 2009, made it illegal for female executives to be paid less than their male co-workers.
“I think anyone who is working out there and making a living -- if you’re the most qualified person for the job, you should be able to get paid, you should get paid as much as your male counterpart. Everyone agrees with that principle,” Rubio told ABC’s George Stephanopolous.
“Just because they call a piece of legislation an equal pay bill doesn’t make it so,” Rubio said. “In fact, much of this legislation is, in many respects, nothing but an effort to help trial lawyers collect their fees and file lawsuits, which may not contribute at all whatsoever to increasing pay equity in the workplace.”
Rubio’s criticisms of the Obama administration and the Ledbetter act in particular have fallen on deaf ears among female voters, most of whom favor the president’s policy. Romney has said he would not be in favor of overturning the equal pay legislation, although running mate Paul Ryan would. CNN reported that women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.
Rubio also defended the GOP candidate’s stance on birth control. Romney has said that he’s in favor of access to birth control but supports organizations that are not willing to administer it to their employees via health insurance. NBC host David Gregory pressed Rubio on Romney’s position, saying “I don’t see how both things can be true.”
“I think that’s a general statement about most employers, but there are a handful of employers that have conscientious objections to it, for example the Catholic Church,” Rubio said. “This is not an issue about contraception. No one is talking about banning contraception; no one is talking about preventing people from getting access to contraception. This just happens to conflict with a constitutional principle of religious liberty.”