Clinton Goes After Walker, Rubio, Paul on Equal Pay

The Democratic frontrunner won’t name them, but she is targeting Republicans who are polling decently against her.

Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at Rancho High School on May 5, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
National Journal
Emily Schultheis
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Emily Schultheis
May 27, 2015, 11:54 a.m.

She may not have said their names, but Hil­lary Clin­ton on Wed­nes­day singled out Scott Walk­er, Marco Ru­bio, and Rand Paul—three of the Re­pub­lic­ans polling well against her—for their com­ments about equal pay.

In a speech to the South Car­o­lina Demo­crat­ic Wo­men’s Coun­cil, Clin­ton out­lined her po­s­i­tion on equal pay in what her cam­paign says is the first piece of her wo­men’s agenda. Dur­ing the speech, she cited three Re­pub­lic­ans, not by name but with dir­ect quotes that make it clear who she’s tar­get­ing.

“Now, we could fix this if Re­pub­lic­ans would get on board. We in fact could fix this today—but they won’t,” she said. “In fact, one Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate for pres­id­ent dis­missed equal pay as a ‘bogus is­sue.’ An­oth­er said Con­gress was ‘wast­ing time’ wor­ry­ing about it. One even said that ef­forts to guar­an­tee fair pay re­minded him of the So­viet Uni­on.”

“And to that I say, what cen­tury are they liv­ing in?” Clin­ton quipped.

That first quote came from Scott Walk­er, who in 2012, when asked about his de­cision to sign a bill re­peal­ing equal pay le­gis­la­tion in Wis­con­sin, said “it’s a bogus is­sue.” (Full con­text makes it clear Walk­er was say­ing something quite dif­fer­ent: “It’s a bogus is­sue. It is against the law to dis­crim­in­ate against wo­men for em­ploy­ment and to pay them less than you pay men, and it will con­tin­ue to be.”)

The second came from Marco Ru­bio, who said in a 2014 in­ter­view with CNN’s Jake Tap­per that dis­cus­sion in Con­gress about the Paycheck Fair­ness Act was “wast­ing time.” (Again, con­text helps him out a bit: “I un­der­stand the polit­ic­al be­ne­fit of high­light­ing that and why they’re do­ing it, but it isn’t go­ing to solve the core of the prob­lem. And I just think we’re wast­ing time. Mean­while, an en­tire gen­er­a­tion of young wo­men is caught in low-pay­ing jobs with no way to emerge from that in­to a bet­ter-pay­ing job.”)

And the third is from Rand Paul, who in 2012 re­portedly com­pared equal pay to the So­viet Polit­buro. “In the So­viet Uni­on, the Polit­buro de­cided the price of bread, and they either had no bread or too much bread. So set­ting prices or wages by the gov­ern­ment is al­ways a bad idea,” Paul said, per The Huff­ing­ton Post.

Con­veni­ently, all three of those quotes show up in a Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee fact sheet about Re­pub­lic­ans and equal pay, titled “GOP 2016ers ‘bogus’ ‘sense­less’ Equal Pay Views.”

Clin­ton also made an im­pli­cit ref­er­ence to some of her po­ten­tial GOP op­pon­ents last month in New Hamp­shire. There, she called out people who want to “privat­ize So­cial Se­cur­ity or un­der­mine it in some way”—which Jeb Bush and Chris Christie had done just days be­fore.

It may not be gen­er­al-elec­tion sea­son yet, and Clin­ton’s team has re­peatedly said it’s fo­cused on the Demo­crat­ic primary. But she’s clearly look­ing ahead, find­ing ways to needle her po­ten­tial op­pon­ents, par­tic­u­larly the ones who ap­pear to be polling de­cently well against her in hy­po­thet­ic­al head-to-head match­ups.

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