November 28th, 2007
03:40 PM ET
14 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. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    Republicans do believe in "Evolution" that's what they call it, when you change your position to agree with theirs. Otherwise they call it waffling and waving.

    November 28, 2007 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  2. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Everybody is just trying to out do each other. It is sounding like a boasting session of boys talking about how much they have done (in sports or treating women as sex objects etc). I would like to have the candidates just talk about their own record. I guess that is too much to ask at this point. It would be nice if the various media outlets would work together to verify claims that the candidates make.

    November 28, 2007 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  3. Brandon, Tampa, FL


    November 28, 2007 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  4. Richard, St. Paul, MN

    Funny how the Pro-Lifers always want to 'save a life' but they never want to help out physically or financially. They prefer just to tell other people what they think they should be doing.

    November 28, 2007 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  5. Alexander, Washington, D.C. USA

    Who honestly cares about these lackluster candidates.

    Where is my man Dr. Ron Paul?

    Surely, you could have included his position on this issue. Afterall, he is an obstetrician.

    CNN just keep getting worse...

    November 28, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  6. Russ, LV NV

    All I can say is I hope Mitt and all his conservative cronies are going to take care of all the unwanted children he would create with is pro life stance. Until he can control everyones life and keep pregnancies from happening that aren't wanted he better have a great welfare plan for picking up the slack. He needs to keep government out of the doctors office and our personal lives.

    November 28, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  7. Daniel, NY

    Some STUNNING news from Iowa this morning: Huckabee is ahead in front of Romney for the first time ever in a new poll of the caucuses just released this morning!

    November 28, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  8. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Every story can't be about Ron Paul, Alexander. Especially when he doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of getting the GOP nomination.

    November 28, 2007 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  9. Mike Cobb, Palo Alto, CA

    Yet another example of how the Republican candidates are falling over themselves to be first in line to impose their religious beliefs on an entire nation. It would be interesting to hear their answer to the question: what do you say to the majority of American people who support abortion rights? The GOP has become the American Taliban, because under their idea of government, American women would become second class citizens.

    November 28, 2007 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  10. Eric, Cincy, OH

    "Republicans do believe in "Evolution" that's what they call it, when you change your position to agree with theirs. Otherwise they call it waffling and waving."

    Posted By Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    Ivan, What do you call it when Hillary and Bill Clinton switch there views on a daily basis?

    When you are a lib, it is considered a grey area... no such thing as a "yes, no"... or maybe it all depends on what the definition of the word "is" is.

    Let's see if CNN bothers to post this one.

    November 28, 2007 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  11. Mary, Beaver, PA

    Mike Cobb, you are absolutely right. It's about time the GOP realized that their love affair with the Christian right is getting moldy, especially for those of us who still believe in individual liberty. (Just who should own my body, anyway?)

    I'm sick and tired of extremists of any mold, except...

    "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." - Barry Goldwater, GOP Presidential candidate 1964

    Bring back the good old days.

    November 28, 2007 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  12. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Why does a cultist like the Mittster bother pandering to a Neanderthal population when such a nationwide ban has no chance of surviving Supreme Court review?

    November 28, 2007 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  13. Belinda L, Raleigh, NC

    I'm so tired of the Republican party trying to take away my rights. I don't need their 'version' of religion shoved down my throat.

    I'll also note, these are all men, who really have no right to decide.

    November 28, 2007 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. Mike, Milwaukee, WI

    "Flip" Romney is at it again! Does he even know where he stands? How does he expect us to know, if he does not know?

    November 28, 2007 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. Bob, NY, NY

    It is also pretty ridiculous considering of all the candidates McCain and Thompson have been more anti-choice than Romney. Thompson was also endorsed by the national right-to-life party. That said I would still rather Romney over Rudy.

    November 28, 2007 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  16. Kathy, Atlant

    The only time the Publicans care about a child is in the womb, after that...forget it. Look at the CHIP bill. Enough said!!!!

    November 28, 2007 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  17. Heartlight 3, Maui, HI

    I think Roe v. Wade has been the law long enough that many people have forgotten the whole issue of what back-street illegal abortions were like. These people who support amendments making abortion illegal must be too young to remember why it was made legal in the first place.

    November 28, 2007 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  18. spraynardkruger


    November 28, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  19. Dave, Denton

    The abortion issue is a difficult one.

    On the one hand, I am totally against the practice. I think is horrible and denies the life and freedoms of the unborn. On the other hand, I do understand how an abortion ban could be viewed as a limit on personal freedoms. Personally, I think we should have a vote and let the people decide. Hopefully, they would make the right decision.

    On a side note: Romney did flip on this issue. However, his record in MA illustrates that he took the side of life everytime legislation was brought to him.

    November 28, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  20. Xrys, Savannah GA

    Ron Paul has a better track record on this issue than ANY other candidate. He's been consistent throughout his career. Funny how the religious right shys away from him. Must have something to do with his reluctance to bomb people in other countries. So CNN, is it really that hard to research that info on Ron Paul, or are your "journalists" just really lazy?

    November 28, 2007 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  21. Steve Blaine Washington

    Whatever happened to the pill and other
    devices for avoiding pregancy. I do not think I am solidly pro life because I think compassion should be used in these cases. But look at the number of cases where people go to foreign countries to adopt children. Adoption should be cheaper and easier in this country and access to pregnacy prevention methods should be more available to women. There should be something done to help to solve the problem other than the wholesale slaughter of babies. The toll today is so horrendous that it is sickning.

    November 28, 2007 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  22. Michael D. Arlington, VA

    Romney is really resorting to garbage tactics with this mailer opposing abortion. You can look up any of his interviews while running for governor of MA and he never says that he is pro-life. See Romney on

    I think that he will say or do anything to try to get the Republican nomination.
    Clearly he is changing his position.
    I am a 'Republican for Choice'.

    November 28, 2007 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  23. Editor (, Washington, DC

    Mitt Romney has been doing this since he decided to run in the the election. He took whatever view neede to win in MA. Now he has a new constituency. His real views are extreme conservatism, don't let him fool you. He had to get permission from "the brethren" in Salt Lake City before he could even take the positions he did in MA.

    November 28, 2007 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  24. Mark Maxwell, New York

    Congressman Ron Paul is a medical doctor who has delivered 4000 babies in his career. That's about as pro-life as it gets. No other GOP candidate for president can touch that claim.

    November 28, 2007 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  25. Matt, Lancaster Pa

    No body, let me repeat no body, has the right to dictate when a life ends. I hope that some day R vs. W is put to the peoples vote because the media has overinflated the concept that most poeple are pro-choice. Think about this. There are 300+ million people in America. That means that 300 million mothers chose life.

    November 28, 2007 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
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