Obama deals gently with Palin on equal pay issue

TOLEDO, Ohio - August 31, 2008 That may seem like a "well, duh" observation on his part, but Obama has tiptoed carefully around Palin as he tries to attract female voters. So far he has criticized her only for her ties to McCain.

On Sunday, the Democratic nominee seemed eager to blunt Palin's possible appeal to undecided women, but again, indirectly.

"We're going to make sure that equal pay for equal work is a reality in this country," Obama said at an economic forum in Toledo, Ohio, a battleground state this fall. Alluding to Palin without saying her name, he told about 200 people sitting on a sun-drenched office rooftop that she "seems like a very engaging person, nice person. But I've got to say, she's opposed, like John McCain is, to equal pay for equal work. That doesn't make much sense to me."

Obama, sharing the stage with running mate Joe Biden, has often criticized McCain's stand on a failed Senate bill called the Fair Pay Restoration Act. It essentially would have reversed a 5-4 Supreme Court decision holding that a woman had only 180 days to formally complain that she was paid less than male colleagues for the same work.

Obama, who co-sponsored the bill, says such barriers should be eased.

McCain missed the Senate vote, but said at the time: "I am all in favor of pay equity for women. But this kind of legislation ... opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems."

Some of Obama's supporters and spokesmen have been less gentle with Palin, noting that she has been governor only two years and has little if any foreign policy experience.

Obama, who attended church Sunday in Lima, Ohio, promised to bring jobs to hard-pressed sections of the state.

"We're going to invest $15 billion a year in making highly efficient cars of the future right here in Ohio, right here in America," he said to loud cheers. He promised to help create plants to produce "windmills and solar panels and biofuels, right here in Ohio, creating millions of jobs that can't be exported."

He and Biden, who jumped in a few times to help answer questions from the audience, said they would pay for their initiatives partly by ending some of the Bush administration's tax cuts for high earners.

The McCain campaign said Sunday that the presidential candidate and Palin support equal pay for women even though they do not think the 180-day limit for filing complaints should be changed.

Copyright © 2023 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.