Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who was the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, recently told The Washington Post that the Republican Party is “nuts” for opposing a minimum wage increase.
In an interview published on Jan. 13, Romney explained that raising the minimum wage -- a platform he publicly supported as far back as 2012 -- will help address wage stagnation and rally working-class voters around the Republicans in 2016.
“I think we’re nuts not to raise the minimum wage,” Romney said. “I think, as a party, to say we’re trying to help the middle class of America and the poor and not raise the minimum wage sends exactly the wrong signal.”
Whites without college degrees have long formed a significant portion of potential voters, making up 41 percent of the electorate in 2012, according to The Washington Post. But despite their numbers, they vote in lower numbers than other demographics, leading political analysts and campaign strategists to say that the Republican party needs to focus on getting these voters to the polls if it wants to send a candidate to the White House.
One way to do this is by raising the minimum wage, a prospect that many middle class voters support but that wealthy Republican backers steadfastly reject. Romney pointed this out, stating that a platform focusing on deregulation and tax policy was no longer enough.
“People have been hearing that for 25 years, and they’re getting tired of that message,” Romney said.
Raising the minimum wage can also help transition low-wage workers off of welfare and decrease U.S. spending on social assistance projects, a prospect that some conservatives -- including U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron -- have stood behind.
Romney’s stance, although a surprise to many who saw the Republican Party platform as staunchly against a minimum wage increase, echoes previous statements he has made. In 2012, as his presidential campaign neared its end, Romney came out in favor of indexing the minimum wage to inflation, which would allow it to go up over time; in 2014, he explained his position in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," reports Vox.