Columbus, Ohio (CNN) - Mitt Romney's campaign scrambled to clean up another unforced error by their candidate Wednesday after he came out against a controversial amendment pushed by Senate Republicans that would allow employers to opt out of health care coverage they disagree with on moral grounds.
Romney's statement, which came in an afternoon interview with Ohio News Network, quickly reverberated around the Internet and prompted Romney's campaign to clarify that the opposite was true, and that the former Massachusetts governor, in fact, supports the legislation.
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"The way the question was asked was confusing," campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an email blasted out to reporters after Romney's became the subject of a flurry of tweets. "Gov. Romney supports the Blunt Bill because he believes in a conscience exemption in health care for religious institutions and people of faith."
The amendment, drafted by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a Romney supporter, is an attempt by Senate Republicans to confront head-on a simmering controversy over rules governing religious employers and coverage they are required to provide.
The Senate is expected to take up the bill on Thursday.
The uproar was sparked by a move by the Obama administration that would have required employers to provide contraception to their employees - regardless of the employer's religious beliefs. Representatives from the Catholic church advocated strongly against the measure.
The White House has since backed off on that requirement, and instead said insurers must cover birth control if the employer does not.
In the sit down interview with Ohio's ONN, Romney was asked whether he supported the Blunt measure.
"The issue of birth control, contraception, Blunt-Rubio is being debated, I believe, later this week. It deals with banning or allowing employers to ban providing female contraception," asked the reporter, Jim Heath. "Have you taken a position on it? He (Santorum) said he was for that, we'll talk about personhood in a second; but he's for that, have you taken a position?"
Romney responded: "I'm not for the bill, but look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a women, husband and wife, I'm not going there."
As they worked to fix the off-message comment, which was already being circulated to reporters by conservative political operatives, the Romney campaign criticized the "rushed" nature of the question and pointed out that the amendment does not "ban" contraception.
For his part, Romney, appearing on the Howie Carr radio show after the ONN interview, said he misunderstood the question.
"I didn't understand his question. Of course, I support the Blunt amendment. I thought he was talking about some state law that prevented people from getting contraception. So I was simply misunderstood the question and of course I support the Blunt amendment," Romney said before further outlining his position in support of the amendment.
"I simply misunderstood what he was talking about. I thought it was some Ohio legislation that, where employers were prevented from providing contraceptives so I talked about contraceptives and so forth. I really misunderstood the question," Romney said. "Of course Roy Blunt who is my liaison to the Senate is someone I support and of course I support that amendment. I clearly want to have religious exemption from 'Obamacare.'"
Meanwhile, Obama's re-election team wasted no time Wednesday pouncing on Romney's comments, saying in a statement that Romney showed in one hour "why women don't trust him for one minute."
"It took little more than an hour for him to commit his latest flip-flop," Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager, said in the statement. "Even worse, he ended up on the wrong side of an issue of critical importance to women.”
Also piling on the criticism, Santorum's campaign released a statement accusing Romney of giving a "troubling" first reaction to the question.
"As Governor, Mitt Romney has a clear record of taking away the freedom of religion," Santorum's national communications director Hogan Gidley said in a statement. "We all know Romney's liberal record on this, so when he's asked a question about a bill that would protect our religious freedom – and Romney's gut reaction is to say he'd oppose it – we shouldn't be the least bit surprised."
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I love it. Instead of admitting he thinks birth control is a personal choice, his excuse is he's too stupid to answer the question.
Mitt, come here.
Now listen carefully.
You are for this,
but you are against that, OK ?
You have to remember these things.
We cant spend all of our time trying to undo your stupidity.
So lets go over it again.
You are for this, but against that.
OK, got it ?
Better yet, just keep quiet.
Fellow Americans, please don't be fooled by the media. Your ACCESS to birth control is not going anywhere. The government is trying real hard to make you believe if your employer doesn't cover the cost of your birth control through insurance then that means you won't don't have access to it. That is incorrect. You will just have to pay for it yourself, out of pocket. Many people who use non-hormonal birth control don't get reimbursed through their company insurance. It's not a covered benefit. They pay for it out of pocket. Go into your local Target or Walmart and tell me you can't find birth control over the counter. If you believe the government why would it be for sale since insurance doesn't cover it?
Of course he does. More proof no one knows who the real Willard is.
These people are wasting time, energy, and money for nothing. Obama 2012!!!
I can't invision this guy meeting with foreign dignitories. Would he have to have all his advisors at his side to make sure he answered questions properly???
OBAMA/BIDEN 2012/ ELIZ. WARREN 2012
Anybody who votes for these republican extremest morons deserves what they get. Den landslide coming in Nov.
As a physician, I am appalled by this legislation. I prescribe contraceptive pills for other reasons besides contraception (more often than not, actually). If there was a religious movement against vaccines or antibiotics, should employers not have to pay for those, too?
Romney why don't you get out of peoples bedrooms and go get a real job.
If hypocrisy was an Olympic sport, Mitt Romney would be a ten-time returning gold medal winner.
Come on, Romney. You don't have the guts to stand up on this, you don't have the guts to be president.
Why do "people of faith" get a break on things? Why do "churches" NOT PAY TAXES.
Wake up America! They routinely break the rules regarding their tax-exempt status by trying to influence political candidates and legislation. Get a clue!
Wow, Romney has flipped more times in the last week than a fish out of water.
This is the guy who is going to restore the GOP to glory? Lol.
Behold the GOBP's principle-free "well-oiled weathervane." What an inspiring leader!
C'mon Romney tell the people how you really feel, What your true convictions are. maybe you can garner some votes outside the republican party's ever shrinking base.
Not only is Romney "confused" he is also confusING. Who the heck knows exactly what the man stands for? What if he actually became president...would he take a firm stand on anything? Whenever he speaks for himself his staff quickly reminds him that he made a mis-statement. The man cannot think like a president.
Romney in the photo seems to be saying:
"Oooh. You got me there. Let's see...umm, contraceptives...lower taxes for...no, no that's not it...get out of Afgha...no, wait...Obama doesn't believe...wait,er,he.....he's NOT a Christian! That's it! That's it!!!!".
It was just a matter of time for his turn to say something stoopid.
Again???!!!! -and this guy wants to talk to the Russians and the rest of the world for the US and he can't keep his foot out of his mouth for 2 days straight
Does Romney mean that Jewish employers can mandate that gentile employees use birth control or get an abortion when halachah requires it?
Okay, we let them opt out of this coverage. Will a person opposed to smoking opt out of coverage to cancer? If we have employers opt out of enough diseases then the concept of insurance becomes "hollow". Of course that would take some thinking of what the full impact would mean, rather than the sound-bite response.
This guy is disturbing, god help us.
The ginned up hysteria over Pres. Obama is dying down considerably after America has seen what the GOP has to offer, which is shaky at best.
If the republicans want to support an exemption for the catholics for the contraception from the law, then why not provide an exemption to the muslims or mormans to have multiple wives? Shouldn't all religions be treated equally and respected equally? Then why not allow other religions to follow their norms? Why not give religious holidays to all religions (like Hindus to celerbrate their Fesitval of Lights etc).
The proposed bill by the republicans is hypocrtical and a sham. This is their tactic to get catholic votes and I am sure it will backfire on them as cathlic women, who support the provision of contraception in the healthcare insurance will vote against this bill and hence the republicans.
SO......if your boss is say, a religion that believes that drugs, surgery, and blood transfusions or anything invasive is against his religion. Your SCREWED? Good job boys. And they wonder why this congress has the lowest approval rating in history.