Political Animal


October 10, 2012 9:40 AM Moderate This Statement

By Ed Kilgore

So Moderate Mitt Romney told the editorial board of the Des Moines Register yesterday that he had no interest in promoting anti-abortion legislation as president:

“There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda,” the GOP presidential candidate told The Des Moines Register’s editorial board during a meeting today before his campaign rally at a Van Meter farm.
But by executive order, not by legislation, he would reinstate the so-called Mexico City policy that bans U.S. foreign aid dollars from being used to do abortions, he said.

But then there’s this, via HuffPost’s Elise Foley:

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.”

And speaking of National Review Online, that’s who published Romney’s definitive statement on abortion policy during the Republican primary battle, when Romney was justifying his refusal to sign a very radical pledge presented by the Susan B. Anthony List:

I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.
I support the reversal of Roe v. Wade, because it is bad law and bad medicine. Roe was a misguided ruling that was a result of a small group of activist federal judges legislating from the bench.
I support the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions. And as president, I will support efforts to prohibit federal funding for any organization like Planned Parenthood, which primarily performs abortions or offers abortion-related services.
I will reinstate the Mexico City Policy to ensure that nongovernmental organizations that receive funding from America refrain from performing or promoting abortion services, as a method of family planning, in other countries. This includes ending American funding for any United Nations or other foreign assistance program that promotes or performs abortions on women around the world.
I will advocate for and support a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.
And perhaps most importantly, I will only appoint judges who adhere to the Constitution and the laws as they are written, not as they want them to be written.

So last year, in a carefully considered and drafted statement, Romney was all for new legislation to ban federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and promised to “advocate and support” federal “fetal pain” legislation along the lines of bills being promoted by anti-choice legislators from sea to shining sea. He basically agreed to do anything within the president’s power to help The Cause, with the exception of administering litmus tests to a host of his appointees, which is what the SBA List was asking him to do. To some extent, his comments to the Register simply reflected the limitations of the executive branch on this particular subject, which has been a source of great frustration to anti-choicers over the years.

But Moderate Mitt should not be able to get away with bland reassurances on this issue—with his own campaign repudiating him almost on the spot—without dealing with specific pledges he made during this very campaign. Is he—on behalf of himself and his loyal running-mate, Paul Ryan, who up until now has been universally considered a leader in the anti-choice cause—specifically retracting promises to promote a funding ban on Planned Parenthood and federal legislation flatly banning abortions prior to some arbitrary point in the second trimester of pregnancy?

It would be good to know if Moderate Mitt is talking out of both sides of his mouth.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on October 10, 2012 9:50 AM:

    On the abortion issue alone, Mitt has taken more positions than Ron Jeremy and Jenna Jameson - COMBINED!

  • berttheclock on October 10, 2012 9:52 AM:

    Great to hear that he won't appoint activist judges who legislate from the bench. Did not know he felt so strongly about the Supremes selecting GWB in 2000. So, Mitt really did support Gore, eh?

  • Ronald on October 10, 2012 10:05 AM:

    Are we watching the same campaign here?
    Of course Mr. Romney is talking out both sides of his mouth
    That's what he's been doing the entire campaign.
    What would be good to know is why the MSM isn't calling him out on this regularly, other than that they're 'in the tank' for making this as close of a race as possible for ratings purposes.

  • pontormo on October 10, 2012 10:17 AM:

    Of course Mitt is full of crap. Nothing new there.
    What is the point of preaching to the choir? Therapy?

  • kd bart on October 10, 2012 10:20 AM:

    It's quite amazing how Romney gets away with saying whatever the audience he's in front of wants to hear. The man lies on just about every subject in a public forum. The Real Mitt Romney is the one captured on the "47 Percent Video". Where he was speaking in private to his true constituency. This point has to be continually hammered home

  • stormskies on October 10, 2012 10:20 AM:

    As we all know WHAT ELSE IS FUCKING NEW. The sad thing is that all the millions who will vote for this pathological liar, buffoon, and corporate automaton WONT' GIVE A FUCK.

    To these fucking cretins it is all just about 'winning'. Not principles whatsoever. None. It is just about winning so that this sick fucks can then feel 'validated' in their miserable lives.

  • Kathryn on October 10, 2012 10:22 AM:

    Every newspaper editorial board that interviews Romney needs to include in their decision making process (for endorsement, I assume) the reversals from his campaign that immediately follow his statement on his "policy". Does being a republican white candidate inoculate you from honesty? Why, yes it does. Romney is making a mockery of running for president and everyone, even president at Denver debate, is letting him get away with it. Really Ed, do we have to ask if he's talking out of both sides of his mouth?

    Draper, New York Times magazine article this Sunday ends with a quote from Raul Lambrador, a radical congressman from Idaho, promising that they (tea party types) will hold Romney's feet to the fire if he's elected, to obtain their objectives. Now that is a threat and a promise we can take to the bank.

  • T2 on October 10, 2012 10:35 AM:

    "It would be good to know if Moderate Mitt is talking out of both sides of his mouth."

    Ha! I would be good to know when he isn't.

  • Giggs on October 10, 2012 10:36 AM:

    Notice a pattern here? Mitt taking a more moderated stand when he has a lot of eyeballs and ears, espcially undecideds and centrists (claiming coverage for pre-existing conditions on Meet the Press and in the 1st debate, no hard-line on abortion rights to the DSM Register) and then his campaign quickly and quietly walking back his statement. Also notice that the correction to his abortion policies was made to NRO and not the DSM Register...

  • biggerbox on October 10, 2012 10:51 AM:

    At this point I think it's fair to openly speculate on whether it's multiple personality disorder, or just plain old sociopathy. Does he actually have alters who believe what he's saying that switch control of his body from time to time? Or is it that he has absolutely no conscience and will say whatever it takes and lie whatever lie is handy to get what he wants?

    Me, I'm thinking it's the second, but I think the multiple-personality thing needs investigation.

  • sjw on October 10, 2012 10:52 AM:

    Obama could cut through the bullshit and stop his slide in one easy step: call several news conferences. Answer questions on everything and use the opportunity to contrast his positions with Romney; ridicule Romney; taunt Romney to do a series of news conferences on his own; and challenge the reporters to go after Romney as hard as they're going after him.

    Easily done. But I expect more play-it-safe wimpy rope-a-dope avoid-confrontation-at-all-costs nonsense.

  • berttheclock on October 10, 2012 10:58 AM:

    Several of the posters bring up how the importance of appearance over substance play to the undecideds. The day after the debate, some woman in Wisconsin was asked about the debate. She said for the first time, she thought Mitt had acted as though he really wanted to be President and she had begun to lean his way. She had not been interested in any facts.

  • buggy ding dong on October 10, 2012 10:59 AM:

    Stop using "moderate mitt". That just helps him.

    Bring back Multiple Choice Mitt. That's what Kennedy used so effectively in 1994 and will be easy to tag him with and make it stick.

    Even when we use it mockingly, "Moderate" just helps his image.

  • SecularAnimist on October 10, 2012 11:30 AM:

    Mitt Romney is a career white-collar crook, who will say and do whatever it takes to get into power so that he can drain the wealth of America into the offshore bank accounts of himself, his family, and his corrupt, kleptocratic corporate cronies and financial backers.

    One day he'll masquerade as a "right-to-life conservative". The next day he'll masquerade as a "pro-choice moderate". It's all 100 percent bullshit to bamboozle gullible dupes.

    Underneath the masks, he's a gangster, a thug, and a crook. Period. End of story.

  • Mimikatz on October 10, 2012 11:47 AM:

    It isn't just what Romney would or wouldn't propose. If he is elected, it would mean the GOP holds the House and possibly has a tied Senate or even takes the Senate. And the GOP House that passed 50 abortion restricting bills would then have a field day. Romney, who owed his election to these retrogrades would have to sign whatever they send him.

    For women Romney is a recipe for disaster. I am old enough that I was in college pre-Roe, even pre- Griswold, when it was illegal to even sell contraceptives in Massachusetts, Connecticut and many other states. No Planned Parenthood, no friendly college health service doctors, no help whatsoever. Talk about being on your own. Women's lives were forever changed by the availability of contraception and it would be a real step back to the dark ages to lose it. Women better really wake up on this one.

  • SadOldVet on October 10, 2012 12:04 PM:

    With President Obama's election, it was declared that we are in a 'post-racial' phase of our nation.

    If Willard is elected, will the corporately owned media declare that we are now 'post-truth'?

  • Peter C on October 10, 2012 12:21 PM:

    Mitt isn't a moderate; he's just a liar.

  • Quaker in a Basement on October 10, 2012 12:52 PM:

    “There [i]s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda,” the GOP presidential candidate told The Des Moines Register’s editorial board

    There is no legislation? But there could be? Guess it all depends on what the definition of "is" is.

  • gregor on October 10, 2012 12:53 PM:

    Well he may be a liar, but Americans do not care. Obama may celebrate his own virginal and pure righteousness in his isolated existence, but that will not win him the election.

  • Bokonon on October 10, 2012 1:03 PM:

    Romney has the true believers sewn up. And having gotten lots of ironclad pledges from Romney in the past, the anti-abortion crowd is more or less chortling up their sleeve at how Romney is punking the mainstream media (and literally leaving Obama speechless). He is playing them for chumps. Just like his spokesman promised months ago, with that "etch a sketch" statement.

    Romney does lots of things under the radar - and that speech he gave about the unworthy 47 percent was an example of Romney's split messaging, where he smiles to the public and promises prosperity ... and he promises specifics when meeting behind closed doors with interest groups and large donors. Romney effectively an entire shadow agenda that he is trying to avoid discussing. And there is a reason for that. Those pledges are scary, and they ain't moderate. Putting John Bolton at the UN, for example.

    Sure, Mitt Romney is a bright, shiny liar, but he is THEIR liar - and they know that he will dance with the people that brought him to the ball.

  • Madeleine Begun Kane on October 10, 2012 8:20 PM:

    Romney's Political Hack Trick (Limerick)
    By Madeleine Begun Kane

    Mitt's slick and unusual tack
    Proves the man's a political hack.
    He feigns moderate views
    Where he'll get the most news.
    Then staff quietly walks it all back.