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Equal-pay plaintiff campaigns for Obama in NH

By Holly Ramer
Associated Press / April 30, 2012
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HANOVER, N.H.—Campaigning for President Barack Obama in New Hampshire, the Alabama woman whose lawsuit led to the federal pay equity law that bears her name said Monday that voters shouldn't trust statements by Republican Mitt Romney that he doesn't plan to change the law if elected president.

Romney has said he has no intention of altering the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which makes it easier for workers to sue for pay discrimination on the job, but he has declined to say whether he would have signed the bill had he been president. It was the first bill Obama signed into law as president, and as he seeks to widen his advantage over Romney with female voters, he has been touting it as proof of his commitment to women's rights.

Ledbetter, who sued Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. after learning near the end of her 19-year career that she was being paid less than her male colleagues, said she doesn't believe that Romney will leave the law alone.

Just because his campaign says he has no interest in changing it, "that doesn't mean he won't, because he has been known to flip-flop quite a bit," she told several dozen Obama supporters gathered in a Hanover backyard.

She also said Romney is making his views clear by not saying whether he would have signed the bill into law had he been president at the time.

"If he won't commit, to me, I've always accepted that as a `no,'" she said.

In a sign of New Hampshire's role as a battleground state, Romney also was in New Hampshire Monday, addressing a crowd on the Portsmouth Fish Pier. It was Romney's second trip to New Hampshire in less than a week. Ledbetter was attending two other house parties later Monday in Concord and Nashua.

"It's only April, and Democrats are energized," said state Rep. Sharon Nordgren, who hosted the Hanover gathering.

Though she was campaigning for Obama, Ledbetter said equal pay is not a Democratic or Republican issue.

"This is a human, American, fundamental civil rights matter -- that everybody has a fair playing field and is treated fair, and the laws are enforced for everybody," she said. "I thought because I worked for an employer who had government contracts, they were having their feet held to the fire, but I found out that they were not."

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