Posts Tagged ‘abortion’
“With the days dwindling until the leadoff primaries and caucuses in New Hampshire and Iowa, Mitt Romney found himself fending off flip-flopping charges Saturday on both political fronts,” writes Shushannah Walshe in a FoxNews You Decide 08! report titled Rough Day for Romney — Flip-Flopper Charges Come From All Sides
The Concord Monitor in New Hampshire, which doesn’t formally endorse candidates until after Christmas, posted an editorial Saturday on its Web site urging voters to reject Romney, saying he’s like a “Republican presidential candidate from a kit,” and “surely must be stopped.”
Meanwhile, American Right to Life Action — a political committee known as a 527 – launched a TV ad in Iowa ridiculing the former Massachusetts governor for changing his position on abortion.
In response to the editorial, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said in a statement Saturday that “The Concord Monitor has a very liberal editorial board. (Republican New Hampshire Sen.) Judd Gregg speaks for a lot of conservative Republicans in New Hampshire, and he thinks Mitt Romney is the best person to cut taxes, control spending and strengthen the American economy.”
Click here to read the Concord Monitor editorial.
The editorial attempted to paint a portrait of two Romneys: Romney, the governor, and Romney, the presidential candidate.
“If you followed only his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, you might imagine Romney as a pragmatic moderate with liberal positions on numerous social issues and an ability to work well with Democrats,” the article said. “If you followed only his campaign for president, you’d swear he was a red-meat conservative, pandering to the religious right, whatever the cost. Pay attention to both, and you’re left to wonder if there’s anything at all at his core.”
The 527 ad latched on to similar themes, saying he “magically became pro-life” after previously pledging to protect a woman’s right to choose.
Click here to see the American Right to Life Action ad.
Asked at a stop in New Hampshire about the ad, Romney said he didn’t know much about the group behind it.
“My record in being pro-life is very clear as the governor of Massachusetts, and my guess is that there is some group that is pulling for another candidate and is trying to find someway to go after me, and that is just the nature of politics,” he said … etc., etc.
Here is the problem for Romney: The attacks against him are developing from different directions, on different issues, and they address different constituencies. AND YET these separate attacks play upon one and only one theme: Romney’s centerlessness, his ideological cross-dressing; hence: the attacks are consistent, coherent, and, most damaging for Romney, cumulative—in the study of strategy this is what is called a swarm—conclusion: Romney is getting swarmed. The drowning out of Romney’s already garbled message and the campaign’s complete inability to formulate an effective—or even coherent—counter narrative testify to the effectiveness of these particular swarming tactics.
P.S. Here is an update on the pro-life, anti-Romney advertisement.
Bevan: “in the clip Tim Russert played, Romney explained his pro-choice position by citing the story of a ‘dear close family relative…who passed away from an illegal abortion’—Far from being ‘theoretical’ or ‘philosophical,’ then, Romney’s pro-choice position on abortion was derived from a very real and personal experience”
Tom Bevan, in a RealClearPolitics Blog post titled Romney’s MTP Turn, writes:
On Meet the Press, Romney characterized the reasoning behind his effectively pro-choice position this way: “And the question for me was, what is the role of government? And it was quite theoretical and, and philosophical to consider what the role of government should be in this regard.” Romney then explained his conversion saying that when a bill relating to life came to his desk as governor, “the theoretical became reality, if you will.”
The problem, such as exists for Romney, is that in the 1994 clip Tim Russert played directly preceding these comments, Romney explained his pro-choice position by citing the story of a “dear close family relative…who passed away from an illegal abortion.” Far from being “theoretical” or “philosophical,” then, Romney’s pro-choice position on abortion was derived from a very real and personal experience … etc.
“ABC News’ Rick Klein Reports: Mitt Romney attended a fund-raising reception for Planned Parenthood in 1994 in conjunction with a $150 donation his wife made to the organization — notwithstanding Romney’s contention that he had ‘no recollection’ of the circumstances under which his wife made gave money to the abortion-rights group,” writes Rick Klein in a Political Radar post titled Romney Attended Planned Parenthood Fundraiser in 1994
In the photograph obtained by ABC News, Romney and his wife, Ann, are shown in a yellow-and-white tent chatting with local political activists, including Nicki Nichols Gamble, who was then president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.
Nichols Gamble — whose back is the camera in the photograph — told ABC that the event was a Planned Parenthood fundraising “house party” in Cohasset, Mass., in June 1994. At the time, Romney, R-Mass., was locked in a tight Senate campaign with Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and was touting his support for abortion rights.
That event, Nichols Gamble said, was the occasion where Ann Romney wrote her $150 check — drafted on a joint checking account she had with her husband — to Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts.
“They were both there, and I remember very well chatting with both of them, and talking about his support for the pro-choice agenda,” she said. “We talked about the fact that he was taking a pro-choice position on the issues, and we were very pleased about that.”
When asked by reporters earlier this year whether the former governor had ever donated money to Planned Parenthood, the Romney campaign said no. Aides subsequently conceded that Romney’s wife, Ann, wrote a $150 check to the group in 1994.
Romney spokesman Kevin Madden told ABC in May 2007 that Romney had “no recollection” of the circumstances under which the check was written, and stressed the fact that the donation was made by Ann Romney … etc.
Romney likes to say that he was in this era “effectively pro-choice,” a qualifier that suggests that at heart Romney was pro-life even as he pursued and defended pro-choice policy goals, yet another Romney-depiction of Romney’s divided self, yet another Romney dissociation of the real and the apparent, Romney’s favorite rhetorical trick.
Here is the problem for those of us for whom life is not an expedient but an imperative: Romney was apparently very effective at being pro-choice. Very, very effective.
“It’s getting increasingly hard for Mitt Romney to stick to the script about his record,” writes the estimable Jennifer Rubin for the New York Observer in an article titled A Bad Fight for Mitt Romney
As he traveled through chilly New Hampshire on his post-Thanksgiving campaign tour, he found himself in a toe-to-toe fight with Rudy Giuliani about their respective records.
This is particularly dangerous territory for the Romney campaign.
In broad strokes, Mr. Romney should be happy to tout his executive experience – which he contends Hillary Clinton and many of his opponents sorely lack – as a business executive, Olympics chairman and Governor. But the details of his Massachusetts record are problematic, especially in New Hampshire, where many voters are Massachusetts transplants or live within the Boston media market. Indeed, the more specific the arguments get, the worse they are for Mr. Romney.
The problems start with his immigration stance … The Annenberg Center’s factcheck.org confirmed that Mr. Romney’s plan was a last-minute gambit that never went into effect and that he had a handful of his own sanctuary cities. The result: his latest immigration ad mentions neither issue.
Likewise he has been challenged on his economic record. Mr. Romney contends he “never raised” taxes and balanced the budget despite a liberal legislature. However, that provided an opportunity for the Giuliani campaign to talk about Mr. Romney’s “C” rating from the CATO institute, his failure to deliver on his promised reduction of state income taxes and his efforts to raise revenue by “closing loopholes” in the tax code.
Most troublesome for Mr. Romney is his record on healthcare. Mr. Romney trumpeted his record of achieving near universal healthcare with “no taxes.” Mr. Giuliani and other Republican rivals responded by pointing out that the “no tax” plan sounded quite a bit like Hillary Clinton’s health care plan and included fines on businesses and individuals who did not comply with the mandate to buy insurance. Meanwhile, Fred Thompson and other pro-life rivals were more than happy to highlight another feature of Mr. Romney’s healthcare plan: subsidized abortion services.
And this weekend, Mr. Giuliani seized on a Romney-appointed judge’s decision to release a convicted murder (who proceeded to kill a newlywed couple) as an opportunity to label his rival as weak on crime. Mr. Giuliani produced FBI crime statistics to argue that murders went up over 7 percent during Mr. Romney’s tenure. Mr. Romney shot back that crime rates overall decreased (by over 8 percent). But still, comparing crime-reduction records with Rudy Giuliani is surely an activity the Romney campaign will want to move on from as quickly as possible … etc., etc.
In an NRO The Corner post, Andy McCarthy comments on Romney’s bitter and personal attacks on Mayor Giuliani:
… I am a declared Rudy guy who likes Mitt, so I’m not enjoying the cross-fire. But after reading Byron’s piece, I gotta say I’m surprised — and offended — that Mitt claims voters are worried about a candidate who has “been married more than once.”
Like Ronald Reagan, I’ve been married twice. So have a lot of people. It’s to his great credit and good fortune that Mitt found the right person at a young age and has obviously enjoyed an enduring, wonderful marriage. But, y’know, Bill Clinton’s only been married once, too. Does Mitt really think there is upside in playing this game? I think he’s gonna turn off many more people than he’ll appeal to. It’s not the sort of thing people base their vote on, but I liked him less after reading it than I did before …
… As we talked, I began a question, “If I could separate stem cells from abortion — “ writes Byron York of the formerly conservative NRO in a story titled Mitt Romney: “I Changed My View. Is that So Difficult to Understand?” The candidate talks about his efforts to convince voters that his pro-life conversion is real
Romney quickly interrupted. “You can’t, can you?”
“Well, there are laws that deal with stem cells,” I said, “and then there is Roe itself.”
“Well, they both relate to the sanctity of human life.”
“But your position was, as far as a woman’s right to have an abortion is concerned, that you would protect that and that you believed that Roe should be protected.”
“I’m not sure what your question is,” Romney said, growing visibly irritated. “I changed my view. Is that so difficult to understand?”
One source of skepticism about Romney is his habit of occasionally pushing his argument a little too far, of cutting a few corners with his record. Take that award from the Massachusetts Citizens for Life. It was presented in May 2007, not by the state organization of Massachusetts Citizens for Life but by the Pioneer Valley Regional Chapter, which represents the western part of the state. When Romney began to cite it in his campaign appearances, group officials in Boston issued a statement “to make clear that the local award did not constitute endorsement by the state organization.” The statement went on to give a mixed view of Romney, saying he had taken “a politically-expedient pro-abortion position,” but that “admitting that he was wrong took rare courage.” So what Romney points to as the stamp of approval from a pro-life group is really a bit less … etc.
These lines speak volumes. The emphasis is ours. Answer: Yes, Romney, your change-of-view is difficult to understand, terribly difficult. Here is how Silverstein puts it:
… The problems holding him back were all identified in the campaign’s PowerPoint presentation: the Massachusetts background, the image of slickness, the fears about his religion, and, above all, mistrust of his ideological transformation. Romney and his handlers portray him as having undergone a political conversion, but they can’t point to any convincing catalyst. There was no religious epiphany (as, for example, with George W. Bush) or political awakening (as with Ronald Reagan, a New Deal Democrat who joined the Republican Party in 1962 and backed Barry Goldwater for president two years later, which at the time was hardly a politically savvy move). With Romney, there’s merely been the recent espousal of positions diametrically opposed to his earlier ones, feeding the suspicion that his political shifts are more reflective of his ambition than of his convictions …
“The Romney campaign may be disappointed because they didn’t get the endorsement from National Right to Life but maybe the organization had a look at the following videotape,” writes David Brody of the eponymous Brody File in a post titled Why Romney Didn’t Get the Right to Life Endorsement
… This video has been out before but I bring it up because in it, [Romney's] speaking directly to the endorsement issue and arguing vigorously against it. This is what is known as “political baggage”. It also speaks directly to why Romney has some problems with pro-lifers, especially at the grassroots level. For them, it’s not that he was pro-choice. It’s that he argued so forcefully for the position …
The emphasis is ours.
… “Strict Federalism. Romney says that a “one-size-fits-all approach is wrong,’” writes the estimable Tommy Oliver quoting the person of his serene and most-high majesty, the aloof and imperious Willard Milton Romney himself, in a race42008.com post titled, appropriately, Mitt Romney’s Social Distortion
That he would say “one-size-fits-all” when making a statement about Roe vs. Wade, but then turn around a support the Human Life Amendment, is very unlikely, at least on that date.
What happened? Only Governor Romney really knows, but it’s a direct contradiction that dates from 2007, not 1994 or 2002. Other than saying he wouldn’t overturn the platform in his ABC interview, he didn’t say that he would support a Human Life Amendment. If he has said that since, it easily could have been a political calculation … etc.
Just so. This is normally where we would insert unflattering remarks about Kevin Madden. But not today. Today we want to salute the man for his heroic efforts to clarify what cannot be clarified. It cannot be easy trying to be Romney’s communications director. Here was our far less thorough or refined take on this issue:
P.S. Whatever happened to Social Distortion? We used to love that group. Good times.
“Gov. Romney is new to the pro-life movement and his campaign clearly has a few things to learn about it, “ thunders Fred Thompson communications director, the estimable Todd Harris, a gentleman who communicates plainly, clearly, pointedly, coherently, and vigorously, unlike Romney’s own gibbering helper-monkey, the maddeningly inarticulate Kevin Madden, a man who cannot clear his throat without flatly contradicting himself. Mr. Rhett Hatcher posted excerpts of Harris’s rejoinder to race42008.com, added his own apt and precise comments, and titled it Personal Attacks?
First, [continues Harris, Team Romney] should understand that despite their campaign’s every effort, groups like the National Right to Life Committee’s PAC (NLRC-PAC) cannot be bought. NLRC-PAC is supporting Fred Thompson because of Fred’s 100% pro-life voting record. They know he stood with them yesterday, he stands with them today, and he will stand with them tomorrow. It is unseemly for the Romney campaign and its supporters to suggest that NLRC-PAC’s coveted endorsement is based on a bribe. Second, this unfounded accusation is as outrageou s as it is ironic, given the Romney campaign’s long history of spreading money around to anyone who will take it.
“If the Romney campaign is looking for the reason they did not receive the NLRC-PAC endorsement, they can start with the fact that Gov. Romney was pro-choice just two years ago. They should also consider the fact that Gov. Romney’s own health care plan in Massachusetts offers taxpayer funded abortions for a mere $50 co-pay and requires by law that a representative from Planned Parenthood sit on the MassHealth advisory board. Tellingly, Gov. Romney made no such requirement for a representative from the pro-life movement.
“The Romney campaign was clearly hoping for this endorsement and are now clearly upset. But being denied an endorsement is no excuse to impugn the integrity of the very organization they were just days ago trying to woo” … etc.
Just so. See:
Moral: this is what happens when you have high negatives and you go the least bit negative—it all blows up in your face. The Romneys have effectively resuscitated Sen. Thompson’s campaign.
This is why the pensive and petulant political primitives of the Romney clan even now huddle together to deliberate the urgent question of whether to risk going negative against former mayor and national hero, Rudy Giuliani. We suppose the Romneys thought Sen. Fred Thompson would be an easier kill. But the sudden and fierce reaction from all quarters has taught the Romneys a painful lesson in the social uses of temperance, moderation, and restraint. See:
Let us see if the lesson sticks. Not quick learners, the Romneys. They may need a few more punishing high-voltage jolts before they connect the stimuli to the response and abandon that oh-so-tempting food pellet.
“I feel comfortable saying, based on conversations with NRLC members, that Jim Bopp’s attack on Sam Brownback did not help the Romney team with the NRLC,” writes Erick in a Redstate post titled Paul Weyrich Comes Unglued [Updated and bumped]
… Paul Weyrich coming unglued and accusing Thompson of bribing NRLC for their endorsement is really not going to help Romney at the grassroots level. [reported here]
Weyrich can say what he wants, but (a) it’s not true and (b) it’s not helpful. I would suggest that if they don’t think Thompson is a threat, the Romney camp might not want to get bogged down on this. The latest poll numbers in Iowa and South Carolina are certainly not painting a pretty picture for the Thompson camp. But, this endorsement just might help …
Erick links to these comments by Jennifer Rubin titled Does this Help?
Listen, there is room to debate which candidate should have gotten the NRLC nod. But isn’t accusing Thompson of in essence paying money to get the endorsement just beyond the pale? That’s what Romney supporter Paul Weyrich says here … Does any of this help Romney with social conservatives or reflect well on him? … etc.
Our question: Why the head-scratching? Why is anyone surprised? This is how Romney and his flatterers always behave when their sense of entitlement gets challenged.
Our own conclusion: Weyrich, like Bopp, is through, over, spent, finished, no longer a player—he sold out to the Romneys but failed to deliver on his promises or accomplish any of his tasks—no one followed him—so now he is useful to precisely no one, not the Romneys, not the pro-life movement. His last gasp—the death rattle of his lost reputation—consists in issuing accusations and rationales for why everyone walked away from him and, by implication, his imperious master, Romney.
“Mitt Romney’s paid-for social conservative adviser James Bopp has been posting on conservative websites attempting to clarify his attacks on Sen. Sam Brownback after Brownback held a courtesy meeting with pro-choice Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani,” writes AmSpec’s Prowler in a post titled Bopp’s Blowup
We also vary and expand on the theme of Bopp’s blowup:
Back to The Prowler:
… “If it were a one-time thing, you could understand, but Romney’s people have been attacking Brownback for months,” says the longtime pro-lifer. “And we kept hearing over the weekend that Jim [Bopp] and Brownback people were still going at it in private email exchanges. He should have just apologized to Brownback and moved on.”
Bopp’s blowup may also have the effect of putting an unpleasant spotlight on another Romney supporter, Prof. Mary Ann Glendon, who is expected to be nominated by President Bush as the next U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.
Glendon, who is currently the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard University, serves as a legal adviser to Romney. She has long been considered one of the nation’s most impressive legal minds on life and scientific and medical ethics issues, as well as a high-profile pro-life feminist. She was appointed head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for the Sciences in 2004, a post she might have to step away from if she were confirmed.
However, Bopp’s attacks on Brownback have now raised questions about Glendon, her role with the Romney campaign and whether Glendon’s own bishop in Boston, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, would be wholly supportive of her nomination.
Glendon was conspicuously absent from O’Malley’s Red Mass earlier this month, where Brownback was the keynote speaker, and where O’Malley announced, “There is no other presidential candidate in the U.S. today that more reflects Catholic social doctrine as you do.”
All of the infighting and ugliness has some wondering if there isn’t more at play here than mere politics. “The divisiveness and the way people are acting make you think there is something much darker afoot. Christians should not be doing this to each other, yet it seems that they will ruin decade-old friendships and tear people down,” says the longtime pro-life activist. “It’s almost Biblical” … etc., etc.
Conclusion: Romney’s grim negativity and constant attacks are taking their toll on friends and foes alike.