Romney Continues Move to Center: Softens Anti-Abortion Stand
Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s rapid move to the center — unobstructed this time by conservatives who had insisted on a Republican who proudly articulated strong conservative positions because they want to win, and an Obama campaign still reeling from the massive damage President Barack Obama suffered due to last week’s debate — continues. Inexorably and systematically:
Mitt Romney said Tuesday he has no plans to push for legislation limiting abortion, a softer stance from a candidate who has said he would “get rid of” funding for Planned Parenthood and appoint Supreme Court who would overturn Roe v. Wade.
“There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda,” the Republican presidential nominee told The Des Moines Register in an interview.
The Romney campaign walked back the remark within two hours of the Register posting its story. Spokeswoman Andrea Saul told the National Review Online’s Katrina Trinko that Romney “would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life.”
The pattern has emerged: Romney will say things that make him sound more moderate, like the Governor Mitt Romney years ago in Massachusetts. And then his campaign — after all the publicity — will walk the comment back. Intentionally or otherwise, a statement has been pitchforked into the headlines. The walk back seldom gets as high with the walk back pitchfork.
His statement could put him at odds with congressional Republicans who have made limiting abortion central to their messages. His own running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), has introduced bills to restrict access to abortion. And the Republican Party platform toughened its anti-abortion stance earlier this year.
Both Romney and Ryan oppose abortion, but the presidential candidate supports exemptions while his running mate does not. Romney told the Register he will restrict abortion in one way, through an executive order banning U.S. foreign aid money to be used for abortions.
Romney has previously vowed to end taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, one of the most common ways in which Republicans have tried to restrict access to abortion, even though the organization is already banned from using taxpayer dollars to fund the procedure. “Planned Parenthood, we’re going to get rid of that,” he said in March, referring to budget cuts he would make as president.
Romney said in September that he would prefer to appoint justices to the Supreme Court that would oppose Roe v. Wade.
“I hope to appoint justices for the Supreme Court that will follow the law and the constitution,” he said at the time on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And it would be my preference that they reverse Roe V. Wade and therefore they return to the people and their elected representatives the decisions with regards to this important issue.”
The context is important: since winning his debate last week against what many felt was a seemingly lethargic and hapless Obama, polls have shown Romney making huge gains with women voters — in some cases almost erasing Obama’s pre-debate double digit lead.
Romney could not have made this statement a month ago. And if he had said this during the primary campaign he never would have gotten the nomination. But not just yours truly sees what is now occurring as conservatives and formerly chest-thumping conservative talk show hosts now giving Romney permission to do what it takes now to win the White House. (Question: wouldn’t Romney and the GOP have had an easier time of it if conservative old and new media types had allowed him to move to the center much earlier?)
The Romney campaign is figuring that conservatives are so pumped by his Lazarus-like rise from the dead and beating down of Barack Obama that they’ll basically cut him whatever slack he needs or wants.
Expressions of strength and power are galvanizing. We should also remembering how the fantasy of the general election debate Obama beat down was a constantly harped on theme during the Republican primaries. Not so much who could win but who could deliver the sort of cathartic crushing blow that would finally expose the presidential phony Obama for good.
You may not see what happened quite that way. But for people hungering for that moment, that’s sure what it looked like. I’ll be curious to see how this new abortion flip plays out. But that may turn out to be the greatest impact of the debate. Romney bought himself lots of running room to cut as far to the center as he wants.
First Read is also catching its breath on this Romney shift:
*** Romney’s statement on abortion: Speaking of headaches, this could be one for Mitt Romney. In an interview yesterday with the Des Moines Register’s editorial board, Romney said: “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.” That statement could very well surprise many of his conservative supporters. And Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul emailed this response to National Review: “Gov. Romney would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life.” Saul gave this other statement to NBC News: “Mitt Romney is proudly pro-life, and he will be a pro-life president.” We imagine that conservative commentators will be biting their tongues over Romney’s statement to the Des Moines Register. But it’s pretty remarkable – in today’s day and age – for a GOP presidential nominee to say there’s no abortion-related legislation that would become part of his agenda. By the way, you know Romney’s doing well when social conservatives bite their collective tongue.
Which again gets back to all the chest-thumping and noble, nice sounding steadfast sounding vows that this time Republican conservatives would insist upon and finally w a candidate who proudly and unwaveringly stood for and unabashedly articulated unquestionably conservative principles — this time not running from them but by defending them and pressing them litigating conservatism once and for all.
After last week’s debate — as they can almost taste the cuisine at a Romney White House dinner — their new position is:
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