March 13th, 2012
11:57 PM ET
3 years ago

When Romney says 'get rid of' Planned Parenthood he means…

(CNN) – Mitt Romney reiterated his pledge to defund Planned Parenthood Tuesday, telling a local television reporter in a St. Louis suburb he would "get rid of" the women's health organization if he were president.

In context, Romney's remark appeared to refer to revoking federal funding for the group, which many conservatives oppose because it provides abortions. As president, Romney wouldn't be in position to "get rid of" Planned Parenthood because it isn't a government entity. But his Democratic critics were still quick to pounce with context or not.

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Answering a question from CNN affiliate KDSK of St. Louis, Romney listed off a series of programs he would either eliminate or defund in order to reduce the federal deficit, utilizing a frequent campaign line that he would ask whether a program is "so critical it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for."

"You get rid of Obamacare, but there are others," Romney the station. "Planned Parenthood, we're gonna get rid of that. The subsidy for Amtrak, I would eliminate that. The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, both excellent programs, but we can't afford to borrow money to pay for these things."

Speaking on CNN Tuesday night, Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said the candidate was listing programs, including Planned Parenthood, that could be defunded to balance the budget.

"He singled out some areas of the budget he would eliminate or curtail, all in the name of achieving a balanced budget," Fehrnstrom said.

He added, "It would not be getting rid of the organization. They have other sources of funding besides government operations, but in order to achieve balance, we have to make some tough decisions about spending."

The explanation didn't stop Planned Parenthood and Romney's Democratic rivals from hitting back at the comment. In a statement, President Barack Obama's deputy campaign manager said the remark was "offensive."

"Mitt Romney's comments today that he would 'get rid of' Planned Parenthood show how low he is willing to go to pander to the most extreme elements of the Republican base," Stephanie Cutter said. "Planned Parenthood is a vital health care provider for millions of American women, giving them affordable access to life-saving services like mammograms and cervical cancer screenings."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, also characterized Romney's words as a play to the conservative wing of the GOP.

"He did everything he could to pander to the far right wing of his party with extreme and out-of-touch positions like vowing to get rid of Planned Parenthood, as he did today," Schultz said in a statement Tuesday.

Planned Parenthood defended its work against Romney's plan, saying the services it provides help protect women's health.

"When Mitt Romney says he wants to 'get rid' of Planned Parenthood, he means getting rid of the preventive health care that three million people a year rely on for cancer screenings, birth control, and other preventive care. This is dangerous and out of step with what most Americans want," Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President for Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement.

CNN's Peter Hamby, Jessica Yellin, Justin Lear and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Also see:

Romney speaks up for Hatch in new TV ad

Romney focused on Obama and gas prices, not competitors

Another Republican joins primary battle to face Gillibrand

Religion, gas prices, and beating Obama on the minds of Alabama voters


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Planned Parenthood
soundoff (281 Responses)
  1. TBONE

    I wanted to add that Bush and Clinton Dynasties are the reason and religions and ideological divides in the two party system is the reason why the country is in the mess that it is in. I am finally done commenting.

    March 14, 2012 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  2. Pander Bear

    The man has pandered his way out of the Whitehouse.

    March 14, 2012 03:51 am at 3:51 am |
  3. Marry

    Romney listed off a series of programs he would either eliminate or defund asking if there "so critical it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for."
    Instead perhaps Mr. Romney should ask himself if programs that benefit the American public greatly are not worth for him and his rich friends to pay a bit more in taxes and instead of borrowing so they can forgo their obligations and keep their "benefits"? No, I do not think this would EVER cross his mind!

    Typical GOP/TP mantra: Reduce the deficit created by the GOP and THEIR wars and bad policies (“job-creators, tax-breaks for the rich, subsidies, etc.) on the backs of the middle class and the poor.
    Hey, nobody is hindering in a Democracy part of the 99% to vote against their very own interests…

    March 14, 2012 04:16 am at 4:16 am |
  4. Iamnotfooled

    And the 'WAR on Women" continues. Didn't Romney see what happened to the Susan G. Komen Foundation? The same will happen to him.

    March 14, 2012 04:24 am at 4:24 am |
  5. craig

    His words could be taken two ways, and he knows that and spoke them deliberately. He knows that the far Right will understand him to say he'll find a way to eliminate the whole idea of providing women's health care...something that is clearly (and rather suddenly) on the front burner of the Right. I guess that's right back there with the "good old days" when women couldn't vote, etc. For his more moderate audience, he can simply say he wants to cut whatever funding they receive from the government. In other words, he's lying either way. This open and unending assault on women and women's health is not only going to ensure the GOP won't win the Presidency any time soon, but it's also going to backfire, making certain that legal abortions remain legal...simply because more and more people are going to get completely mad about the extreme positions being taken.

    March 14, 2012 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  6. Steven Colo

    I cannot fathom how any woman could ever vote for a Republican.

    March 14, 2012 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
  7. Blindersoff

    No excuses for Romney, no spends or handicaps . . . Romney has no idea of what being the president of these united states is all about. We as Americans have moved forward and beyond the racial and social divide. We have a president, who just happens to be a black man (even though he is of both African and European decent) One of integrity, courage and fortitude, something Romney lacks and is in desperate need of. President Obama is centered and has a core and believes in the oneness of these United States of America. Romney just wants to be president to have one up on his father and to finally be free from his daddies shadow. Romney will do nothing for this country except allow the 1% to finish it's free fall and continue to rape, pillage and blunder whats is left of America. America, finally we are moving in the right direction, being on the side of history. A vote for the republican party as president, is a vote for regression. Period.

    March 14, 2012 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  8. Blindersoff

    No more excuses for Romney, no spends or handicaps . . . Romney has no idea of what being the president of these united states is all about. We as Americans have moved forward and beyond the racial and social divide. We have a president, who just happens to be a black man (even though he is of both African and European decent) One of integrity, courage and fortitude, something Romney lacks and is in desperate need of. President Obama is centered and has a core and believes in the oneness of these United States of America. Romney just wants to be president to have one up on his father and to finally be free from his daddies shadow. Romney will do nothing for this country except allow the 1% to finish it's free fall and continue to rape, pillage and blunder whats is left of America. America, finally we are moving in the right direction, being on the side of history. A vote for the republican party as president, is a vote for regression. Period.

    March 14, 2012 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  9. Marie MD

    What a . . . . I can't really type what I feel for this man at this moment. Plannet Parenthood, unlike what kyl said in the house floor, is only 3% to abortions and the rest is all for women's health and about prevention of cancer and other diseases. Then again teapublikans hate women and their little women are fine with that because they also don't have a backbone.
    Way to go flip flopper. I knew you wouldn't win the south because after watching Maher's show last Friday I am still in shock that there are people so narrowed minded in, by their own, words the bible belt. People who seem to find education a sin and live worse than pigs. That's sanatorium's territory.

    March 14, 2012 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  10. TomInRochNY

    The budget for what Romney mentioned is a drop in the bucket. Defunding these organizations will do little to fix the budget. How about we look at military spending? SS reform? Medicare/Medicaid reform? Tax reform? Come on, Mitt. What is your solution for those big ticket items? Do you dare mention anything about them before the election?

    March 14, 2012 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  11. Dave

    Sounds good to me. Why should my tax dollars support abortion? Let people pay for that themselves!

    March 14, 2012 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  12. AEK

    WoW! And the War on Women continues!

    March 14, 2012 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  13. RKN

    We cannot afford the huge subsidies for oil, or the huge tax breaks for the wealthy. Would that be eliminated as well?
    Yeah, I didn't think so.

    March 14, 2012 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  14. clarke

    I think Planned ParentHood should change their name to Health care Service clinic. People hear Planned parent hood, they only think of one thing. It is peoples mind set, Sometimes things aren't what they seem. A name change would change the image. People have a hard time looking out side the box.

    March 14, 2012 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  15. S. B. Stein E.B. NJ

    So, Romney would like us to be without health care for women who can little afford it or get to it. That is just great; let half of the population get worse health care. The idea that he would cut funding for Amtrak is just plain foolish. Unless he plans on widening the roads everywhere Amtrak goes and buying a car for everyone who uses it, then don't cut it. He is wealthy enough to afford private planes or tickets on regular commercial jets. I guess he doesn't understand the need of other people who can't do that.

    March 14, 2012 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  16. The Greedy Old Pigs declared class war on US!

    Typical Rmoney well-oiled weathervane stuff. "Hey, hey, look at MEEEE! I hate women just as much as those other guys!"

    March 14, 2012 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  17. informed voter

    The republican's war on women continues. So far they have stated they don't care about women, the poor, minorities, the unemployed and the sick, and will do everything in their power to defund any program that might help the most needy in our society. Unbelievable. Who in their right mind would vote for any of these fools? Obama 2012, seriously.

    March 14, 2012 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  18. Fearless Freep

    We could save a ton of money if we got rid of congress.

    March 14, 2012 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  19. Lady

    I am not sure why I am astounded by this comment of Rommeys. The war on women's health absolutely continues and it won't stop until there are more women elected in Congress. With so little support in Congress from women, these pigs are just marching on until they've taken us back to the 50's. I am so sicken by what is happening I can't stand to watch the news anymore.

    March 14, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  20. KTLu

    HOW ABOUT TAXING RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS??? Seems like a LEGIT SOURCE OF money from them! Leave women's health alone to WOMEN and their DOCTORS for Christ's sake.

    March 14, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  21. Laverne

    After Mitt Romney loses in November, he will have plenty of tme to reflect as to why he lost. His desperation to be president led him to be phony, a flip flopper, a liar, a huge panderer, insensitive, and last but not least the worst candidate ever! He will be just like his father in more than one way, a man who tried to become president and FAILED MISERABLY!

    March 14, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  22. Angus

    Wow! Looks like the DNC staffers are doing their job on this site today. Nothing like a little money and even less thinking to fabricate this issue because Obama wants to shift the discussion away from his record. Have fun, but this site's comments have become a joke.

    March 14, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  23. Paul Williamson

    Romney's war on women is consistent with his religion; the Mormon Church has always treated women like slaves and property; a man could have as many wives as he wanted; they had to stay at home and have lots of little Mormons; women have no say in the Church and cannot be priests.And for Dave, who must have been taking stupid pills this morning, , "Why should my tax dollars support abortion?", if they don't your tax dollars are going to support tens of millions of poor, illegitimate, unwanted children on welfare, food stamps, and will never pay a dime in taxes because they are unwanted and born to the poor. It will cost taxpayers 100 times as much if the Government does not pay for abortions and contraception."Obama in 2012, the only one with a brain"

    March 14, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  24. Gary, Hunt Valley, Md.

    Romney is simply pathetic. When somebody finds one authentic bone in his body, let me know please. He is the poster boy of "Privileged and Phony." I just want to hear him say "Y'all" some more in that perfect Southern dialect of his. And every time any Republican opens his mouth these days, you can just hear minorities and women running in the other direction.

    March 14, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  25. usualone

    This is a desperate man pandering to those who only listen to soundbites. The more he speaks, the more ridiculous he appears to be. Every day I expect to hear him say something more off base than the day before, and he does not disappoint.

    March 14, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
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