November 25th, 2007
07:07 AM ET
7 years ago

Republicans rip Romney on abortion

Thompson said Romney "was one of the most adamant pro-choice advocates that I had ever seen."

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) – Two Republican presidential candidates slammed rival Mitt Romney's record on abortion Saturday, claiming Romney cannot be trusted on the issue because of his past support for abortion rights.

The attacks, some of the most pointed to date from his Republican opponents Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee, come one week after Romney's campaign sent out a mailer in South Carolina calling him "the only major presidential candidate who supports the Republican party's pro-life platform: a constitutional amendment banning abortion nationwide."

The mail piece touts Romney as "the Governor who sided with life … every single time," referring specifically to legislation Romney supported while in office in Massachusetts.

Thompson, the former Tennessee senator who opposes an abortion amendment and says the issue should be decided by individual states, grinned when asked about the mail piece and said that before Romney decided to run for president, he "was one of the most adamant pro-choice advocates that I had ever seen."

"Governor Romney is saying a lot of things that I'm saying now," Thompson told CNN after a campaign stop in Summerville. "We're saying some of the same things. The only difference is that he was saying diametrically opposing things all his career."

Thompson, who picked up the endorsement of the National Right to Life Committee earlier this month, said that when voters consider Romney, they will have to decide "where he'll be tomorrow when the strong winds blow and when the strong pressure comes.'"

Huckabee also dismissed Romney's credentials on the issue and noted that he too supports a constitutional amendment banning abortions.

"When Mitt was out there on the other side of the issue and he was pro-abortion, I was marching the streets of Little Rock and passing a constitutional amendment in my state," Huckabee said while campaigning at a college football game in Columbia.

"Where Mitt comes up with that, I have no idea. You'll have to ask him how he can manufacture such ideas."

Romney spokesman Will Holley responded to the criticisms, saying that "Governor Romney is proudly pro-life and his record as Governor reflects that."

"Whether it was siding with life every single time an issue crossed his desk as Governor or his support for the Federal Marriage Amendment, Governor Romney has demonstrated his commitment to strengthening American families," Holley said.

Click here to see CNN's new political portal: CNNPolitics.com

– CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby


Filed under: Fred Thompson • Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney • Race to '08 • South Carolina
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Chris Chicago, IL

    If we banned abortion, then how would they make any money off of those babies that they are importing from Guatemala?

    Story

    Could the Alaska Pipeline be reconfigured into a very large waterslide?

    November 25, 2007 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  2. John Smith, Austin, TX

    Thompson is a joke, and so is the GOP. Hillary Clinton is in the wrong party as well. Edwards or Obama in 2008!

    November 25, 2007 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  3. Spokane Valley, WA

    "It absolutely boggles the mind how these hypocritical, two-faced, buffoons actually can think they're Christians."

    Who exactly are you referring to?

    November 25, 2007 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  4. Jonah, Boston MA

    Note to Fred Thompson: the opposite of "pro-life" is not "pro-abortion," it's "pro-choice." It does not mean that we want everyone to get abortions; it means that we believe the choice of whether or not a woman can get an abortion needs to be legally protected.

    Liberals need to stop tacitly legitimizing the use of the term "pro-life" anyway. It's a ridiculous phrase because of its implied opposite, and it very much weakens the pro-choice argument. Virtually all liberals are pro-life in the sense that we hope any given woman chooses not to go through the painful, emotional process of having an abortion... but they need to be allowed to make that choice. That's why I laugh when I see an religious right nutcase with a "choose life" bumper sticker. Do they not realize that they are advocating a pro-choice position?

    November 25, 2007 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  5. Todd, Evansville, IL

    Romney is a liar.

    If he wants to attack other candidates, that is fine. But he should also look at his own house and decide if the walls are sturdy enough to stand.

    As we all know, Mitt Romney has been anti-life up until recently and so that is certainly up for scrutiny.

    There's a reason he's been called "Multiple Choice Mitt"

    November 25, 2007 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  6. jeff, charlotte, nc

    no wonder foxnews has a big following. i noticed there's never an article critical of the dems thoughts on abortion. about 50% of america is against it, why don't you give them a voice too. that's what real reporter would do.

    November 25, 2007 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  7. aeneian

    "We're saying some of the same things. The only difference is that he was saying diametrically opposing things all his career."

    Thompson's comments are well taken. I'll grant Romney has difficulty overcoming his previous pro-abortion credentials, which I think will rightfully defeat his nomination, but, honestly, we all mature in our intellectual growth over time. I applaud Romney in doing so as well, but the timing of his conversion is much too recent for my tastes.

    November 25, 2007 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  8. Christian, Tampa FL

    Didn't Thompson lobby for a pro-choice group? He should either come clean and renounce that, or else admit that there are two sides to the debate. Either way, he should do something about the log in his own eye.

    November 25, 2007 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  9. Moe, NY

    Why are these men trying to decided what women in this country should do about an unwanted pregnancy? It is none of their business. It is a choice for a woman to make. I am sick and tired of these hypocritical Republicans and Conservatives with their false family values which always translates into do what I say, not what I do. What do these men want...American women subjected to laws like the ones that govern Saudi Arabia? Women will not stand for such treatment in this country. I suggest that politicans stay out of this arena. Women in this country will not return to the days of coat hangers!

    November 25, 2007 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  10. Matt, Palm Beach FL

    Cheryl, first I would like to direct you to Matthew 7. You can't see into these men's hearts. Only God can. Thus, please don't question their Christianity. Second, plenty of Republicans (myself included) oppose abortion AND the death penalty. However, you must admit it is equally hypocritical of the Democrats to allow women to kill their unborn babies simply for convenience and then not let the state kill a cold blooded killer.

    November 25, 2007 03:43 am at 3:43 am |
  11. Lee, Mays Landing NJ

    Mitt deserves the abuse he's getting. He looks like a liar on this and other issues (along with his silly claim that he was a hunter pretty much his whole life when he may have hunted once as a teen an once last year after he decided to run).

    November 25, 2007 04:23 am at 4:23 am |
  12. FV, Tampa, FL

    Yes, but then..... Republicans are idiots. So who cares.

    November 25, 2007 04:46 am at 4:46 am |
  13. Don Alexander Carson City Nevada

    Multiple Choice Mitt strikes again. This guy makes me sick; he constantly flips and says whatever he thinks the voters want to hear. When he first ran for office he was an Independent and he based his campaign and career on how awful Ronald Reagan was. He constantly spoke out against President Reagan and now he is comparing himself to Ronald Reagan. He also supported Abortion for years then all the sudden changed. Make your mind up Mitt and stick with it.

    Huckabee and Thompson are not any better. Phony Fred is running on a Hollywood ticket. He is running on personal attacks and his fame from his horrible acting performance’s he can’t won on the issues. Hearing his character speak on Law and Order is like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard. He also lobbied for a Pro Abortion group back in the 90's and he was paid very well for it, this right there shows that it's all about the money with him.

    Mike Huckabee just plain makes me sick. He is soft on sex offenders. One case in particular comes to mind. Does anyone remember the Wayne Demond case? While Huckabee was Governor he became friends with Wayne Demond's wife. Wayne Demond was a high risk and dangerous sex offender with a violent history. Wayne was coming up for Parole and Huckabee approached the Parole Board and wanted Wayne paroled (because of the friendship with his wife). The Parole Board said under no circumstances would they Parole this man as he was deemed high risk determined by mental health and prison officials. Huckabee didn't like that answer so he threatened to commute his sentence if he wasn't paroled. The parole board weighed their options and didn't want him out and especially without supervision as it was determined that he would defiantly re offend again. They figured at least if he was on parole they could at least keep an eye on him and it would be better then commuting the sentence. Well they gave into Huckabee and paroled him. Once he got out he savagely raped and murdered a woman. Imagine the damage Huckabee could do while President. If you guys don't believe me look it up on the net, there are tons of sites with details about the incident. Also he is in support of giving illegal’s scholarships which is a contradiction of his strong anti Illegal Immigration stance he claims to have. I am a lifelong Conservative but I will vote Democratic if either of these three or Ron Paul gets the nomination unless it's against Obama Bin Laden then I just wont vote.

    My pick is Duncan Hunter with Tom Tancredo in a close second. Then I would go with Giuliani or McCain. I don't like McCain's stance on Illegal Immigration and the Shamnesty deal but I respect what that man has done for our country. He served 5 years in a POW camp getting tortured daily after he was shot down in the war. Also this Thanksgiving instead of spending it on the campaign trail like the other candidates from both parties did, he spent it overseas with his good friend Senator Graham and the brave men and women fighting for our country and I respect that a lot. He has gone to Iraq and Afghanistan several times since the War on Terror began and has even visited troops in danger areas. He also spends a lot of time visiting injured soldiers in the various military hospitals and attends services of fallen soldiers.

    Huckabee and Thompson are not any better. Phoney Fred is running on a Hollywood ticket. He is running on personal attacks and his fame from his horrible acting performancese he cant won on the issues. Hearing his character speak on Law and Order is like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard. He also lobbied for a Pro Abortion group back in the 90's and he was paid very well for it, this right there shows that it's all about the money with him.

    Mike Huckabee just plain makes me sick. He is soft on sex offenders. One case in perticular comes to mind. Does anyone remember the Wayne Demond case? While Huckabee was Governor he became friends with Wayne Demonds wife. Wayne Demond was a high risk and dangerous sex offender with a violent history. Wayne was coming up for Parole and Huckabee approached the Parole Board and wanted Wayne paroled(because of the friendship with his wife). The Parole Board said under no circumstances would they Parole this man as he was deemed high risk determined by mental health and prison officials. Huckabee didn't like that answer so he threatened to commute his sentance if he wasn't paroled. The parole board weighed their options and didn't want him out and especially without supervision as it was determined that he would definantly re offend again. They figured atleast if he was on parole they could atleast keep an eye on him and it would be better then commuting the sentance. Well they gave into Huckabee and paroled him. Once he got out he savagly raped and murdered a woman. Imagine the damage Huckabee could do while President. If you guys don't believe me look it up on the net, there are tons of sites with details about the incident. Also he is in support of giving illegals scholarships which is a contradiction of his strong anti Illegal Immigration stance he claims to have. I am a lifelong Conservative but I will vote Democratic if either of these three or Ron Paul get the nomination unless it's against Obama Bin Laden then I just wont vote.

    My pick is Duncan Hunter with Tom Tancredo in a close second. Then I would go with Giuliani or McCain. I don't like McCain's stance on Illegal Immigration and the Shamnesty deal but I respect what that man has done for our country. He served 5 years in a POW camp getting tortured daily after he was shot down in the war. Also this Thanksgiving instead of spending it on the campaign trail like the other candidates from both parties did, he spent it overseas with his good friend Senator Graham and the brave men and women fighting for our country and I respect that a lot. He has gone to Iraq and Afganistan several times since the War on Terror began and has even visited troops in danger areas. He also spends a lot of time visiting injured soldiers in the various military hospitals and attends services of fallen soldiers.

    November 25, 2007 05:16 am at 5:16 am |
  14. Juan Jimenez, San Juan, PR

    Is this what repukeblicans are reduced to? Pandering to hypocrits? Who cares what these candidates think about abortion? The vast majority of the country considers it correct for abortions to be legal. Period, end of discussion. This is why repukes are no longer in power. Opposed to "killing unborn babies" but no problem sending all of our mom's babies to get slaughtered in idiotic, meaningless wars.

    November 25, 2007 05:42 am at 5:42 am |
  15. Donna, Baltimore, Maryland

    Wow, a review of Romney's record as Governor of Massachusetts does not make me think of Romney as pro-life by any stretch of the imagination. The Parents' Rights Coalition and Mass Resistance have a detailed review on their websites. It includes "Romney, a Republican and the former Winter Olympics chief, was endorsed by the New York-based Republican Pro-Choice Coalition. He mentioned his mother, Lenore Romney, who favored abortion rights when she ran for the U.S. Senate in 1970, even before the 1973 Roe v. Wade case affirmed women's constitutional right to abortions. . . . Lynn Grefe, director of the Republican Pro-Choice Coalition, applauded Romney's 'commitment to family planning and protecting a woman's right to choose' in a letter on Wednesday."
    - Associated Press / New Bedford Standard-Times 10/3/2002 ".

    November 25, 2007 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  16. Maeve

    To Jeff from Fort Worth: You're right; we may as well use the correct terminology. I say my position is Pro-Choice, because that's what it is; I endorse people making choices. Only a nit-wit would consider me or anyone like me to be "pro-abortion," as I don't encourage more abortions to take place. I don't know of anyone who does. Seen any discount coupons being issued for abortions lately? Heard any ads for clinics that give the best abortions in town? Know of any "revival" type meetings that aim to bring people out of the gathered masses to accept an abortion? Of course not. Your attempt to label those who are Pro-Choice with such a silly and off-target tag as you propose is childish.

    On the other hand, those who regard themselves to be pro-life, though they are pro-death penalty and/or pro-death of innocent Iraqis, Afghans, etc. as "collateral damage" are, IMHO, "anti-choice," in regards to the abortion issue. You can't really call them encouraging life in all situations. "Anti-choice" is more to the point, as they would like to discourage women from making a choice they don'y agree with.

    As to Matt in Palm beach: as you have, no doubt, never had an abortion, I forgive you for not understanding that an abortion is rarely, if ever, "simply for convenience." There's nothing "convenient," pleasureable, gratifying, or celebratory about it. A little depth of thought before making such ridiculous claims would be appreciated.

    Finally, it's interesting that Thompson would insinuate Romney is a flip-floper on this issue.

    Didn't Thompson himself suddenly change his position on the Schiavo case recently? First he was in favor of keeping courts and pols. out of the issue; now he says otherwise, correct?

    November 25, 2007 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  17. Mark, Dallas, TX

    Romney is a typical politician. Saying whatever he can for the moment then do whatever he wants once he gets elected. I wouldn't trust him.

    November 25, 2007 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  18. jw, canadian,ok

    A constitutional amendment to ban abortion – ain't gonna happen. But, if it does I'm pulling my money out of the stock market and invest in abortion clinics in Mexico.

    November 25, 2007 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  19. Daniel, NY

    Check out just how much money Romney has been spending WEEKLY in New Hampshire - and most of it is through contributions he is making with his own money. And, get this, he does not have to disclose how much until January 31st, after the primaries!

    November 25, 2007 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  20. Doyle Cape Coral FL

    My advice to anyone who doesn't approve of abortion: DON'T HAVE ONE!

    November 25, 2007 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  21. JD Rugby ND

    I'm sure Romney people also believe the Constitution needs amendments for flag desecration and gays. These are not issues worthy of Constitution amendments. We went down this road with Prohibition in the 30s. It didn't work.

    November 25, 2007 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  22. Patrick, Alexandria, VA

    I think we should clarify the phraseology here. It's "Pro Life" or "Pro Abortion". Let's not whitewash the true intent here by calling it "Pro Choice". Wording like Pro Choice should be used in a fast food commercial.

    Posted By Jack Heim, Fort Worth, TX : November 24, 2007 10:32 pm

    Yes Jack, let's clarify, but let's really clarify. Pro-choice is just that. Those in faovr of allowing women to make a choice. There is no such thing a "Pro-abortion", which would be the stance of forcing pregnant women to have abortions. Please, try to reason a litle bit before giving in to talking points, ok? It'll do you, and the country, some good.

    November 25, 2007 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  23. Andrew, Haslett, MI

    There is a difference between reevaluating one's position and flip-flopping. There's nothing wrong with Romney opposing abortion except that Thompson is correct and it should be left to the states, along with gay marriage issues. After all, it is the states that issue driver's licenses, marriage certificates, and birth records. Read up on the Constitution and stop trying to destroy freedom with amendments.

    Secondly, the evidence against Romney is looking more and more that he is a panderer and changes his position whichever way the wind blows. I don't care how successful in business or as a governor he was; if he's not trustworthy, he must not be President. I don't trust a guy who has to spend this much time defending himself against attacks from his own party and that's exactly why Hilary, Obama, and Edwards must not win either. Candidates don't attack opponents just because they're afraid of losing to them; they've either got something on them or they've caught them in a lie and it's happened far too often in this campaign. Note that there's no news in going after Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich because they can actually back up their positions with their records with no flip-flopping and/or stupid votes.

    Thirdly, there is no conflict with opposing abortion but supporting a death penalty for violent, dangerous criminals. Abortion is not a privacy issue. It is an act of violence against an unborn child and should be avoided at any cost. Just like some posters here have said, they have had abortions and it is the biggest regret of their lives, so we must change this perception that abortion is a right to be protected, when it is a crime against humanity that must be stopped. That is not to say it is OK to arrest people for getting abortions, but the culture must change and personal responsibility must be brought back to America. The bottom line is unless you were raped, you put yourself in the position of needing to get an abortion. Birth-control does not fail often enough to justify this stupidity and reckless disregard for the consequences of sex. If you aren't prepared for the possibility of pregnancy then you shouldn't be having sex! If America didn't treat sex so casually, this would not be an issue and there would be little need for abortions at all, much less legislations. However, the local communities must be the ones to deal with this issue, as we've seen what disastrous consequences come from federal edicts which outlaw personal behavior (prohibition etc.)

    In conclusion, Romney is no better or worse than any of the other lying politicians who will say anything to get elected.

    Candidates you can't trust:
    Clinton, Obama, Thompson, Romney, Edwards

    Candidates you might be able to trust:
    Huckabee, Tancredo, Richardson

    Candidates you can bank on:
    Kucinich, Gravel, Joe Biden, Ron Paul

    November 25, 2007 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  24. Angry but smart Cape Coral, FL

    Am I the only one who sees the
    absurdity of a bunch of fat-assed, white men deciding whether or not a woman can have an abortion? That is a decision they personally will NEVER have to make yet they feel qualified to make it for others Gee, maybe there is such a thing as "girly-men"

    November 25, 2007 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  25. Tim, Lawrence KS

    Anti-abortion, pro-war.

    Sounds like a contradiction to me.

    Fact of the matter remains if you're a thumping bible-beater, it says "thou shalt not kill" therefore, you're all bad Christians, if you back the Bible.

    Since I don't back the Bible, or Christianity, I'm not a hypocrite for being pro-choice (not pro-abortion) and anti-war.

    Edwards 08, tools.

    November 25, 2007 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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