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Gerald Herbert, Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney plays with his son Josh's feet on his campaign plane en route from Tampa, Fla. to Minnesota and Nevada, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012.

EAGAN, Minn. — Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney has renewed his support for automatic increases in the federal minimum wage to keep pace with inflation. That position puts the former Massachusetts governor sharply at odds with traditional GOP business allies, conservatives and the party's senior lawmakers.

He says he's supported the change for more than a decade.

But Romney did not tell reporters aboard his chartered campaign plane whether he would ask Congress to approve the change if he wins the White House this fall.

Congress first enacted federal minimum wage legislation in 1938 and has raised it sporadically since. The last increase took effect in three installments and reached $7.25 an hour for covered workers, effective July 24, 2009.

It has never been allowed to rise automatically, as Romney envisions.