Democrats have repeatedly said that they hope the minimum wage will be a big issue this election season.
Six months from the midterm elections, their wishes are coming true. House
Former GOP presidential candidate
But now, Romney and a few other Republicans have started to push for their party to shift its stance on working-class issues.
“I think we oughta raise it,” Romney said on
Last week, on the same show, former Minnesota Gov.
"Republicans should support a reasonable increase in the minimum wage," Pawlenty said. "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."
Earlier this week, former GOP presidential candidate
"But let's not make this argument that we're for the blue-collar guy, but we are against any minimum wage increase ever. It just makes no sense," the former Pennsylvania senator said on "The Daily Rundown."
Admittedly, none of the three Republicans who have spoken up on this topic have anything to lose at the moment by supporting a minimum wage increase. Only Santorum has even spoken about running again – in his case, for president, in 2016.
Still, their change in position could be significant. Republicans facing tough reelection campaigns may have to decide sooner, rather than later, whether to join Romney, Pawlenty and Santorum in their support of raising the minimum wage.
Proposals to increase the minimum wage have been introduced in several Republican-controlled state legislatures, including Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Although the bills are not likely gain traction, they could prove to be talking points as the governors of all three states run their reelection campaigns.
The Democratic opponents of Pennsylvania Gov.
Former Massachusetts Sen.
In swing states such as Ohio and Florida, Republicans may be sheltered from any criticism about raising the minimum wage because both states have tied the minimum wage to cost-of-living increases since 2006.
Still, Democrats may be able to point out that minimum wage increases have been passed by some legislatures in Democratic-controlled states. The minimum wage in California will rise to $9 from $8 an hour on July 1 of this year; Connecticut's minimum wage rose to $8.70 on Jan. 1 and will go to $10.10 by 2017. Delaware, D.C., Maryland, Minnesota and New York will all see minimum wage increases in the next year.
Romney's evolving position was first discussed in New Hampshire in January 2012, when he said that he thought the minimum wage should be tied to the Consumer Price Index so that it rises with inflation. That position, which none of his fellow GOP candidates supported, drew criticism from some conservatives, including Steve Forbes.
The Wall Street Journal also weighed in, writing "A higher minimum wage always polls well, though it is rarely a major issue for voters. It's worrying that Mr. Romney, who has based his candidacy on his ability to create jobs, would endorse a policy that would make it more expensive to hire people."
A few months later, Romney backtracked on his comments, saying, "Right now there's probably not a need to raise the minimum wage," on the "Kudlow Report."
In the interview Friday, Romney again ruled out a run for White House in 2016, after unsuccessful attempts in 2008 and 2012.
“I’m not running for president in 2016,” Romney said, suggesting there were a number of qualified prospects, including his former running mate, Wisconsin Rep.
While a few die-hards have advocated another Romney bid, the former Massachusetts governor has repeatedly made clear his uninterest, saying on CNN earlier this year, "I've had my turn."