The McCain campaign attacked Romney's stance on abortion rights Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Arizona Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign issued a stinging attack on GOP presidential rival Mitt Romney's stance on abortion Wednesday, claiming a new YouTube video indicates the former Massachusetts governor supported maintaining abortion rights in his state six months after he opposed such rights.
Romney has said he started opposing abortion rights in November 2004 after a conversation with a stem-cell researcher made him feel the value of human live had been diminished.
But in a new video the McCain campaign posted to the popular video sharing site YouTube, Romney says in a May, 2005 press conference, "I am absolutely committed to my promise to maintain the status quo with regards to laws relating to abortion and choice and so far I've been able to successfully do that. And my personal philosophical views about this issue is not something that I think would do anything other than distract from what I think is a more critical agenda."
In a statement titled "Mitt vs. Fact," McCain spokesman Matt David said Romney's "biggest challenge in this election will be convincing Republicans he has principled positions on important issues, especially now that it's known that he remained committed to pro-choice policies after his 'epiphany' on abortion in 2004."
Romney's campaign quickly fired back, calling the attack "borne of desperation" and said "selective editing" had taken Massachusetts Republican's comments out of context.
"Governor Romney is firmly pro-life and can rely on his record of having protected the sanctity of life when faced with those issues as governor," Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said. "Governor Romney consistently maintained, in an effort to protect the sanctity of life, that he would fight attempts to weaken the state’s existing abortion laws."
"Maintaining existing laws in a state like Massachusetts was an important fight in and of itself," Madden added.
The Romney campaign also noted the remarks in question are from a press conference explaining his veto of a stem cell bill that he said supported "embryo farming, cloning for experimentation, and a redefinition of when life begins."
The campaigns' war of words come one day after a new CNN/WMUR poll indicates Romney has opened up an eight point lead in New Hampshire over both McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney