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. Johnson

    When Romney was Bishop of Boston for his Church he told a single mother to give up her baby. Their Church does not like single parent families.

    March 14, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  2. SF

    we can't afford these programs anymore cuz republicans are too concerned they won't be able to make their rich friends even richer and leave the rest to fend for themselves!

    What the hell do these right wing idiots need to get through their thick skulls about making capitalism work for ALL and not just a select few? do they think the rich just grew off some tree somewhere? they were made rich by the people who buy their products and services....without people to buy that sh it, we'd have no rich people!

    March 14, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  3. Latch

    He's going to have a fun time unsaying all these things before the election, unless the GOP's goal is to totally alienate ALL women.

    March 14, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. anagram_kid

    I really wish Mr. Romney would have the courage to walk into a PP clinic and tell the people there receiving care that he does not feel their health matters and the employees that the services they provide are not useful.

    The abject hatred the modern GOP has for women is simply tragic.

    March 14, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  5. Data Driven

    @Michelle,

    Your life WILL be negatively affected if this slimy salesman gets elected, as will mine, as will everyone else's. This pathetic excuse for a presidential candidate will not be able to pull back to sane, centrist positions on social issues after the primary is over. He saw what happened to John Huntsman in this race. No, Romney, coward that he is, has put all his chips on that mouth-breathing Republican base, who have sailed completely off the deep end, wallowing in their wretched resentments and willful ignorance. It remains to be seen if there are enough of them to get this used-car salesman elected.

    By the way, Romney: if the NEA is such an "excellent" program, why on earth would you eliminate funding for it? See, this is why the wingnuts don't trust you. The correct answer is: "The NEA is just one more federally funded liberal program that is out of step with mainstream American values." In any case, I'm sure there are other things that the Feds pay for that aren't so "excellent". Why not cut those first?

    March 14, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  6. mike

    The architect of the health care act wants to get rid of it. hmmm, that doesn't make much sense but perhaps he has a better idea? Has he ever said what should be in its place?

    March 14, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. Gary

    The truth is He said we will cut PUBLIC tax payer money for it. Which is a GREAT thing!!

    March 14, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. Mike

    Clearly our taxpayer money is better spent on wars, prisons, and subsidizing oil companies and health insurance companies. Women's (and men's) health, education, infrastructure, researching new technologies - who needs those things?

    March 14, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. dashabq

    What this story fails to mention is that before he was for defunding Planned Parenthood, he and his wife were attending fund raising events.

    March 14, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  10. cf

    When Romney says 'get rid of' Planned Parenthood he means…
    ...That he has NO CLUE what it's like to have to worry about being able to afford anything, and doesn't realize or care that Planned Parenthood helps women, children and families who don't have the luxury of being born into wealth like the Romneys.

    March 14, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  11. Uninsured American Woman

    Although I was leaning more toward awarding Romney my vote, after reading this article about his plans to "get rid of Planned Parenthood", his choice of words made my decision for me.... I WILL NOT be voting for him. As a divorced, uninsured American woman, I have, for many years, relied heavily on the cancer screenings, birth control, and other preventive care that is provided under this program & it was through these programs that I was diagnosed & treated for cancer; something I would not have known & therefore left untreated due to lack of insurance & women's health care. His plan to defund this program would affect millions of women and his thoughtlessness only shows his complete disregard & disrespect for women overall.

    March 14, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  12. frontgate

    Bottom line is, this bird is just a fool.

    March 14, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  13. Mike

    Good luck ladies. If you keep voting for these 'conservatives', you'll go back to being considered 'property', being constantly pregnant, uneducated, and unable to vote. If only they wanted to 'conserve' people's health, wellbeing, and their jobs. That's worth being 'conservative' about. Right now, 'conservative' = Christian Taliban.

    March 14, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  14. Randy, San Francisco

    Romney repeatedly has to back track and correct what he meant to say because he is a moderate and not a true conservative. He appears uncomfortable in playing the role of a fire brand like Santorum or Gingrich. His pandering to the extreme right makes him appear less presidential each time he fails to deliver an effective and positive message.

    March 14, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  15. Tony

    Romney means whatever his audience wants to hear. After he clinches the Republican nomination, he will say that he will only take away funding for abortion. Of course, the Hyde Amendment took care of that issue long ago.

    March 14, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  16. firebird9999

    Women need to take this dead seriously. And for those of you who doubt the Republicans' 'war on women,' think again. And again. This is no joke. We're about to be taken back to the middle ages and if you don't understand what that means, do some reading. The Republicans? Scr.. 'em all.

    March 14, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  17. Mary

    I would agree with Romney if he had said that he wanted to "get rid of" federal funding for all organizations.

    But in this context, he's just pandering to the religious wing nuts in the Republican Party who see nothing but abortion when it comes to Planned Parenthood and don't care that they provide birth control counseling and other services to women.

    To too many Republicans, women remain second-class citizens.

    March 14, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  18. Old-Skool Conservative

    Romney should ask whether or not 15% tax on LTCG & CI are worth borrowing money from China to support. They carry a significantly greater financial impact on Washington's income & expense sheet than PP ever could.

    March 14, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  19. Joe

    Again, the libs take even this article, which admits that the comments are taken OUT OF CONTEXT, and they rally to support their socialist leader.

    When I pay for things, I have to make decisions about whether or not an item is so necessary as to go into debt for it. My house...yes. My big screen TV? No.

    Whoever wins this year's presidential election had better be able to make the same kinds of decisions. Is government funding for programs that can otherwise be funded with private money really worth going deeper into debt? I don't care if it's Planned Parenthood, NEA, or any other program that can be supported through private donations.

    March 14, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  20. Russell Hammond

    So much for, "If the safety net for the poor needs fixing, I'll fix it." What Romney meant was that he'll just toss the net in the trash.

    March 14, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  21. revolruf

    Next it's 'they can't vote, they can't talk unless spoken to, no driving – that's a man's job...this is how it starts, women. Choose your vote carefully. There is NO place for theological laws in a free, multi-cultural society. Period. That's how civil wars start.

    March 14, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  22. rs

    Oh goody! The Republicans have an express train back to the 1890s. Whats next? Maybe they'll bring back poor houses and slavery!
    In all seriousness, do we count this as another Romney "flip-flop? He and his wife, and his mother supported Planned Parenthood in the past and attended fund raisers for the organization.

    March 14, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  23. dave

    Welcome to politics – people pouncing on one out-of-context sentence to make voters scared that Romney will try to get rid of PP all together is just as slimy as Romney using the issue as a way to get elected.

    March 14, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  24. Core republican Values

    CrV #4. Women make excellent house servants.

    I love to see Romney pandering to the far right. It just makes him even less electable in November.

    March 14, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  25. Charlie from the North

    Wow, I hope everyone who has ever used birth control (something like 98%)votes to "get rid" of Romney. The very idea that the President would have the power to "get rid' of any such organization.

    March 14, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
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