Obama team attacks Romney on Lilly Ledbetter law

In this Jan. 22, 2009 file photo Lilly Ledbetter, an Alabama Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. worker, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Congress sends the White House its first legislation in Barack Obama's presidency, a bill that allows women to sue retroactively for pay and other workplace discrimination that occurred years, even decades in the past.
Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay
In this Jan. 22, 2009 file photo Lilly Ledbetter, an Alabama Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. worker, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

President Obama's re-election campaign on Wednesday showed its hand relating to Mitt Romney's weakness with women voters: Exploit it at every chance. When the Romney campaign did not immediately express support for a 2009 law making it easier for women to file lawsuits to combat discriminatory pay, the Obama campaign pounced.

Mr. Obama's team widely distributed out a statement from the law's namesake, Lilly Ledbetter, slamming the presumptive Republican nominee for the hesitation from one of his staffers.

"I was shocked and disappointed to hear that Mitt Romney is not willing to stand up for women and their families," she said. "If he is truly concerned about women in this economy, he wouldn't have to take time to 'think' about whether he supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act." The bill was the first piece of legislation Mr. Obama signed into law as president.

The controversy started after a conference call the Romney team hosted on the topic of "the Obama economy," when a Huffington Post reporter asked about Romney's stance on the law, and a policy adviser responded, "We'll get back to you on that."

Amanda Henneberg, a spokesman for the Romney campaign subsequently released a statement saying, "Of course Mitt Romney supports pay equity for women."

"The real question is whether President Obama supports jobs for women," she added, charging charging that women have suffered disproportionately from the stalled economy during the Obama administration.

The Romney campaign is starting to fight back against the argument that Mr. Obama is a better advocate for women's interests. As Democrats charge that Republicans are waging a "war on women," the president has in recent days touted the policies he's supported to help women.

The Romney campaign today released to reporters a series of statements from female members of Congress, charging that Mr. Obama's economic policies have failed women.

"For more than three years, President Obama's disastrous economic policies have wreaked havoc on women in the workplace with record levels of unemployment and the highest poverty rate in nearly two decades," Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said. "Mitt Romney supports pay equity for women and, as president, will do what President Obama has not - implement pro-growth economic policies that will allow women and all Americans to finally get back to work."

Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., similarly said, "Barack Obama talks a good game on women in the economy, but the facts don't back him up."

Polls indicate that winning female support will be a significant hurdle for Romney -- a recent USA Today/Gallup poll showed that women in 12 top battleground states favor the president by 18 points when matched up against Romney.