POLITICS
10/21/2012 11:35 am ET Updated Oct 22, 2012

Marco Rubio: Lilly Ledbetter Act 'Nothing But An Effort To Help Trial Lawyers' (VIDEO)

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) defended Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Sunday for his opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, saying he supports the principle of equal pay for women but not the bill itself because it could be a boon for trial lawyers.

"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," Rubio said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." "Everyone agrees with that principle."

Still, Rubio said, that's not a reason to support the law, which was the first President Barack Obama signed upon taking office in 2009.

"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."

Obama frequently refers to the fair pay law on the stump, particularly when speaking to mostly female audiences. He is leading among women, while Romney leads among men in most polls.

Rubio also addressed on Sunday two other issues important to many women: abortion rights and access to contraception.

Romney has said he supports access to birth control, but he also supports a bill that would restrict it by allowing organizations that object to contraception, such as the Catholic church, to deny coverage to their employees.

"I don't see how both things can be true," host David Gregory told Rubio on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"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 replied. "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."

He confirmed on "Meet the Press" that Romney would sign bills to restrict or ban abortion, which was called into question earlier this month after Romney told the Des Moines Register that abortion legislation wasn't on his agenda. The Romney campaign quickly walked back the statement, clarifying that he would sign such bills.

"He's laying out very clearly what his record is on [abortion] and he's saying [there are] exceptions that he supports," Rubio said. "There's diversity on those in the Republican Party. But he has also clearly said he is pro-life."

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