November 28th, 2007
03:40 PM ET
15 years ago

Questions about Romney's South Carolina abortion mailer

Romney's mail piece on abortion was roundly criticized by his Republican rivals.

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential campaign recently sent out a slick mail piece in South Carolina emphatically stating that Romney is "the only major presidential candidate who supports the Republican party's pro-life platform: A constitutional amendment banning abortion nationwide."

That blanket declaration is aimed directly at many of the state's conservative primary voters, who believe abortion should be outlawed in full.

But the claim doesn't completely square with Romney's previous statements that the abortion issue should first be decided by state legislatures before a constitutional amendment can be passed, leading one conservative leader in the state to call parts of the Romney brochure "oversimplified" and "offensive."

Romney's claim in the mailer, obtained last week by CNN, also opened the door for three of his Republican opponents campaigning in South Carolina to hammer Romney on his past support for abortion rights.

Romney, according to previous statements, actually favors overturning Roe vs. Wade and returning the issue to the states as a stop gap measure until enough votes can be gathered in the Senate to pass an amendment.

In a 2005 Boston Globe op-ed, Romney wrote that he is "pro-life" but said that "while the nation remains so divided over abortion, I believe that the states, through the democratic process, should determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate."

Asked about whether those statements conflict with the mailer's straightforward claim that he supports an amendment banning abortion nationwide, a Romney aide directed CNN to a Christian Broadcasting Network interview from Monday with James Bopp, Jr., Romney's advisor on "life issues."

Bopp said in the interview that Romney believes an amendment is "not possible right now" because the votes are not there, "but what is possible is reversing Roe vs. Wade."

Bopp added that Romney's state approach is consistent with "a federalism approach" because a constitutional amendment would ultimately require ratification by three-fourths of the states.

Oran Smith, president of the Palmetto Family Council - the South Carolina affiliate of Dr. James Dobson's organization, Focus on the Family - said that Romney brochure is "oversimplified and unnecessary."

"It's really unnecessary for Romney in many ways," Smith said. "He had a pretty good record as governor. He doesn't need to resort to oversimplifying his record."

Smith also dismissed the brochure's use of the term "major candidate," which apparently excludes former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who poses a challenge to Romney with his recent strides among religious conservatives, most notably in Iowa.

Romney dropped a mailing in Iowa about gay marriage this week that also excludes Huckabee.

"You can't say before any election has been held anywhere who is and who isn't a major candidate," Smith said. "I find the use of that term rather offensive."

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a staunch abortion rights opponent, said at a campaign stop in South Carolina on Saturday that he too supports an amendment banning abortion.

"Long before he was even pro-life, I was pushing the Human Life Amendment," Huckabee said. "Where Mitt comes up with that, I have no idea. You'll have to ask him how he can manufacture such ideas."

Huckabee, along with former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson and Arizona Sen. John McCain, have all campaigned in South Carolina in recent days.

Asked about the mailer, all three blasted Romney for his past support for abortion rights, with Thompson on Saturday going so far as to call Romney "one of the most adamant pro-choice advocates that I had ever seen."

Thompson, who supports overturning Roe vs. Wade and letting states decide their own abortion laws, does not support a constitutional amendment banning abortion.

McCain said Tuesday in South Carolina that he does support an amendment, and that Romney's mail piece "is certainly dramatically different from his passionate defense of a woman's right to choose that used to be his position both verbally and in writing."

McCain told ABC News last year that said he supports a constitutional amendment with exceptions for rape and incest, but that he is ultimately a federalist and isn't confident such an amendment will be passed.

The other leading Republican candidate, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, is a supporter of abortion rights but has repeatedly said he will appoint "strict constructionist judges."

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Fred Thompson • John McCain • Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney • South Carolina
soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. Andy Sacolaro Indio, California

    Please people, use your brains.

    Abortion will NEVER be made illegal–and every politician knows this. Any stance that a campaigning or sitting politician takes against abortion is purely pandering in order to get votes from the religious right.

    They already know that abortion will never be made illegal-and here is why:

    The System knows that the infrastructure of this country would never be able to handle the increase in population growth that would occur if abortion were to be made illegal.

    It is simple economics.

    The greatest threat facing the world today is not terrorism. It is not nuclear war. It is not disease. IT IS OVERPOPULATION.

    That is why the US government never lifts a finger to stop genocide in the Third World and has never shown anything but a feigned weak criticism of China's forced population control policies.

    The Republicans themselves have secretly undermined the effort to outlaw abortion for decades-by stating in their campaigns that they are against it, but then doing nothing to stop it after being elected.
    Overpopulation is the issue for them, folks-not morality.

    November 28, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  2. Brad, from the great state of Texas

    Hey Kelly,
    Maybe if that pregnant teenager had exercised her right of "choice" (liberals love that word, especially when it means shirking responsibility) before getting knocked up, it wouldn't be such a problem for her.
    Yes there should be some exceptions for women who are raped or molested, but those instances do not account for the majority of abortions in this country. Abortion is just another example of what is wrong with too many of today's Americans–they only want to do what makes them feel good (instant gratification), but when it comes to bite them in the a– they won't deal with the fallout. Take some responsibility, America!

    November 28, 2007 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  3. Andrew, Atlanta, GA


    The media has not overinflated anything. The majority of Americans ARE pro-choice – that's not analysis by the media but social scientists. They may not necessarily define themselves as pro-choice but they DO believe abortion should be legal. The majority of America does NOT support overturning Roe v. Wade though most do want some restrictions. So let's make sure we don't try to twist facts here and accuse the media of something they should not be accused of.

    Also, roughly 40% of abortions are performed on women who ALREADY have children (and even more on those who will eventually have children). I think your belief that if you have an abortion you cannot possibly be pro-choice is naive and, quite frankly, shows a very, very simplistic understanding of the issue.

    Also, if you feel that nobody has the right to dictate when life ends then you should not believe in the death penalty, eating animals, or even killing insects.

    November 28, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  4. AntonK, Seattle WA

    Roe v Wade will never be overturned. Abortion is a wedge issue that solicits votes for "pro-life" candidates who then get elected and do nothing about the issue. For Republicans, Roe v Wade is more valuable as it stands than if it were actually overturned. If not for being "pro-life" what would these candidates truly have to offer? Not much. Without the abortion issue, most conservative candidates don't have much to stand on.

    Consider the current administration, arguably the most "pro-life" administration since Roe v Wade. They have had control of Congress and the Supreme Court and have done nothing but pass an inept "partial birth abortion" ban.

    Single issue voters need to move past the abortion issue when deciding on a candidate. Bush and company manipulated the religious right to garner their votes, then threw money at them ( faith based initiatives) but did little to advance conservative religious policy.

    November 28, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  5. Maren, Mesa, Arizona

    I do not have the same oppinions now about certain political issues that I had 10-15 years ago. Am I not allowed to change my oppinion either if Romney isn't? Where's the public firing squad for me because I changed my views too?

    November 28, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. Rick, Chicago Illinois


    no flip flop THERE eh?

    November 28, 2007 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. Shawnie Cannon, Grants Pass OR

    CNN is anti-Romney, don't let their spins fool you.

    November 28, 2007 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  8. Sandra McDonald

    LDS member's don't beleive in aborton but they do beleive in stealing children through adoption. My son is going through this right now and I'm sick of hearing that a child needs to be raised with both father and mother so a single parent don't need their children. And if Mr Romney wins just what is going to become of single parents.

    November 28, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. Jon , Manchester, NH

    Yes, let's all compete over who can drag the constitution through the mud more! Just what we need, an amendment to placate a core bloc of religious GOP voters for political purposes only. Does that really make sense for our country? Note to Evangelicals, the GOP plays you like fools every 4 (or even 2) years. They can all say they want it because they know it will never happen, no matter how hard they try. They just want your vote to get elected. Wake up.

    November 28, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  10. Walter, San Diego

    Just goes to show what pandering to religious fanatics gets you. Giuliani is doing the same thing. But he does it with a "who me?" look on his face and constant denials that he's trying to have it both ways. Personally, I think that extra level of duplicity makes him the better Republican candidate. Lincoln must be spinning in his grave.

    November 28, 2007 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  11. Amanda A., Des Moines, Iowa

    In response to all the demands for a woman's right to choose: ISN'T HAVING SEX A CHOICE? I wouldn't be opposed to abortion in the case of a woman's life being in danger -but I really think it's ridiculous to have sex irresponsibly and then decide to terminate a pregnancy that could have been prevented in so many different ways. (Condoms, IUDs, the pill, etc.) The time to choose is before you get pregnant. Is that so much to ask?

    November 28, 2007 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  12. John Foster Myrtle Beach SC

    Go look at the youtube video
    The Real Romney or Romney on abortion.
    He is a complete liar and a fraud. He was pro choice his entire political career and emphatically so.

    November 28, 2007 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  13. Jeff, Bridgeport WV

    To Amanda A.

    What about the married couples who use the pill and condoms but still manage to get pregnant? Sure combined they are 99% effective, but there is that pesky 1% still there. Obviously that couple didn't want to get pregnant, maybe they aren't financially able to support a child or simply at a point in their lives where they could raise a child should they be forced to carry that child to term? What if they want children just later in life (5 – 10 years later)? Why should sex only be for procreation?

    No abortion shouldn't be a first line of defense for birth control but it should be there. If you don't want to get an abortion that's fine but don't tell my wife and I that she can't have one because you don't like it.

    November 29, 2007 08:05 am at 8:05 am |

    The Evangalicals and Mormons elected GW Bush because he would end abortion and overturn Roe V. Wade. He did not get the job done in the eight years he has been pesident. Romney has obviously given that some thought and concluded, as other thinking people have done, that electing a pro life President is not the only answer to dealing with this issue.

    I am of the opinion that that those who choose abortion are not all simply choosing the "easy way out." It is an agonizing decision for many. Men are the other half of this issue and their refusal to take responsibility for a girl's plight is often the factor that leads to abortion. The right to choose obviously includes the initial irresponsible choice of unproected sex leading to unplanned parenthood. When will the right to lifers try to legiislate that? Sandy had a good point. Too bad men don't have tell tale signs or other consequences of their ill timed fatherhood. Maybe forcing them to take a pill that would enlarge their breasts and precipitate sudden weight gain as well as forcing them to take financial responsibility would help with this issue.

    January 4, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |

    The Evangelicals and Mormons helped elect GW Bush. After eight years as president, the issue is still there. Romney should have adhered to his original position. This is not an issue that will end with the election of a pro life president . I I am with Sandy. Until men are forced to take more responsibility and/or suffer equal consequences for an unplanned pregnancy, the agonizing decisions connected with birth and/or abortion will still rest solely upon the heads of women.

    Lets elect a president who can deal with the pressing issue of our basic rights and freedom connected with the more imminent dangers currently threatening our nation.

    January 4, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
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