By Arun Kumar, Washington, May 10 IANS | 3 months ago

Indian-American Neel Kashkari, one of Republican party's top candidates for governor of California, has joined issue with the party's 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney over his call for an increase in the minimum wage.


Hours after Romney's call Friday, Kashkari, a former treasury department official who oversaw the $700 billion government bailout programme during the 2007-08 financial crisis, criticised President Barack Obama and other Democrats for trying to raise the minimum wage.

Such a move would be devastating to workers, the former investment banker said speaking to a Republican women's group at a Friendly Hills Country Club luncheon in Whittier, a city in Los Angeles county of California, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"That's good for those workers who get to keep their jobs," he was quoted as sating. "It's devastating for those workers who are out of a job as a result of it. They don't talk about that."

"The timing of the clash was awkward for Kashkari," said the Times noting that "Romney is one of the Republican luminaries - including former Governors Pete Wilson of California and Jeb Bush of Florida - whose support Kashkari has featured in campaign mail and TV advertising."

Kashkari did not mention Romney's newly announced support for a higher minimum wage but did pay tribute to the former Massachusetts governor, Times said.

"I think he would've made an excellent president-and by the way, I think he'd still make an excellent president," Kashkari was quoted as saying.

"You never know. There's some rumors out there. We may still get our hope. He may still fulfill our dreams."

Romney said Friday that he does not plan to run for president again in 2016.

In an interview on MSNBC, Romney also said that he'd decided to support a minimum wage hike because the Republican Party "is all about more jobs and better pay."

Obama and Democrats in Congress have been pushing to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, from $7.25.

While Republicans have blocked the move, Democrats have sought to make it a big issue in the November Congressional elections.

Kashkari, whose parents were immigrants from India, hopes to unseat Democrat governor Jerry Brown, who last year signed a bill raising California's $8-an-hour minimum wage to $9 in July and $10 on Jan 1, 2016.

But polls, according to the Times, have found a more conservative Republican, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of Twin Peaks, running far ahead of Kashkari in the June 3 primary.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

(Posted on 10-05-2014)