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. Walt, Belton, TX

    Screw Romney and the far right! A woman has the right to decide what to do when it concerns her body and her life. Period!

    November 28, 2007 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  2. Joseph H, Warner Robins, GA

    No candidate, from either party, is more pro-life than Dr. Ron Paul. His voting record and his activity in Congress vouches for that.
    Ron Paul has authored legislation that seeks to define life as beginning at conception.
    Ron Paul is the prime sponsor of HR 300, which would negate the effect of Roe V Wade and return this issue to the states. Aside from this, he has delivered over 4,000 babies as an ob-gyn.

    November 28, 2007 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. Fred Grnkl

    Mitt Romney's credentials and history don't really matter. He has great hair. Isn't that what's really important?

    November 28, 2007 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. Bob, Roxboro, NC

    CNN must mean Censored News Network.

    November 28, 2007 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. Michelle D. - Atlanta, GA

    OMG...why is Abortion even on the platform? A woman's right to CHOOSE is such a personal issue that does not even remotely involve professional politicians who pander to their party to just get a vote. That is so sad.

    This issue has already been decided by the Supreme Court in Roe V. Wade.

    The solution is simple: If you don't want an abortion...then don't have one!

    Leaving it up for the states to decide would create a lot of fiscal problems and we've got enough of that already in this country.

    November 28, 2007 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  6. John, Michigan

    Ban abortion?
    What country just had a young wife die from an ectopic pregnancy because intervention by a doctor might have further harmed the "baby?"
    That wouldn't be a Constitutional ban but a Taliban.

    November 28, 2007 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    Richard, St. Paul, MN, wrote:

    "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."

    I have a suggestion for your, Richard. Before you put out something stupid like this for people to read, do a little research.

    Arthur C. Brooks, who earned his PhD in Public Policy Analysis from the Rand Graduate School in 1998, and also holds an MA and BA in economics, says that "when you look at the data, it turns out the conservatives give about 30 percent more than liberals do."

    You got something to counter?

    November 28, 2007 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. Jeff, Bridgeport WV

    It's time people start to smarten up and realize that abortion is a necessary evil. It is never an easy decision for a woman to make and she has to live with it for the rest of her life, however it is sometimes necessary. I'm not talking about the cases where the woman simply doesn't want the child how about when a woman's health is at risk? Why can't that woman get an abortion? Would you rather kill 2 or kill 1? My wife was in that position a couple years ago, we had gotten pregnant dispite using birth control methods (the pill and condoms) and once she was pregnant her blood pressure started to get into the danger territory (200/100+) on a regular basis, had she not terminated she would have died (and that was only at the 6-8 week mark).

    Abortion cannot go away, if it does you will start seeing a sharp increase in the number of woman dieing in this country either because the pregnancy or the birth kills them, or the attempt to self abort and end up bleeding out. It is better to keep it safe and legal than to issue a death sentence to so many women.

    November 28, 2007 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  9. Butch Dillon

    Willard has his roots in two cultures that depend heavily upon lying: mormonism and republican politics.

    November 28, 2007 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  10. Lisa, San Diego, CA.

    I'd love to know Mitt's address so that I know where to drop the unwanted child off. Republicans don't like government interference in economics, but I don't like Republicans interference in my bedroom or my uterus.

    November 28, 2007 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  11. Kate, Aurora CO

    Abortion is a very sensetive issue and is a dividing issue. One side will never agree with the other and vice versa, so what to do? Roe v. Wade could be reversed but it wouldn't stop the practice. Think about it. During prohibition, alcohol was banned and yet how many were still selling it? Point is, as long as there is a demand, the services will be available. Education and promoting safe sex are the key. Stifle the demand and the service will be less.

    November 28, 2007 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  12. D. Endo, Honolulu HI

    Can you say "flip flop"

    November 28, 2007 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  13. Marie Marshall Detroit Michigan

    Abortion is one thing...candidates is another. This slick guy strikes me as someone who says whatever he thinks will get more votes. He's not presidential material.

    November 28, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  14. KR Virginia Beach, VA

    Go Michelle D!!!! What gives any one the right especially a predominately male group to dictate how a woman treats her body??

    November 28, 2007 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. Kelly, FL

    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.

    Posted By Matt, Lancaster Pa : November 28, 2007 12:57 pm

    Nobody, let me repeat, nobody has the right to tell me how to handle my uterine goings on. My body, my choice. Keep your religion and your opinions out of my uterus. If you're so committed to raising and funding these children THEN YOU HAVE THEM.
    You want to start controlling reproductive rights, why don't you sponsor a bill the sterilizes CRACK heads that spew out 5,6,7,10 kids that wind up in the system. The majority of which have no chance of making a productive life for themselves. Just repeat the cycle.
    Where are we going to draw the line here people. The whole world does not follow your religious doctrine. SO DEAL WITH IT and worry about the kids who are already here and need the help.

    Men.... they think they know it all. Be a pregnant teen for a week and you will flip your opinion faster than your can say Inter-Uterine Device.

    November 28, 2007 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. Dave B, Sterling VA

    What about Romney ISN'T offensive?

    November 28, 2007 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  17. T


    such a paragraph would be ok but unnecessary! You see if you really want to know where a candidate stands you go to their web page and read or look at their voting record. I doubt any educated person would decide who to vote for off of a CNN political blog.

    And i agree...the Ron Paul people need to stop pretending he is the best thing since sliced bread. He should be given his time but be is not the only candidate out there and his poll numbers are not the highest!

    November 28, 2007 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  18. Adam, Phoenix, AZ

    Who cares if Ron Paul is a medical doctor, I mean really? We should stick to the issues and it's clear that Ron Paul is the only true conservative running for President. Everyone is kidding themselves if they're supporting Rudy, Mitt, Hillary or Barack (the circus clowns of the status quo). Ron Paul in '08 for real change.

    November 28, 2007 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  19. Ramon, Miami, FL

    No say it isn't so. CNN found somebody to claim that a republican presidential candidate's platform was offensive. I am astonished. Truly

    November 28, 2007 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. Rodney Dallas TX

    Belinda L, Raleigh, NC

    You mean to tell me that the father of the baby has no right on whether he wants to keep the baby? Maybe you should be aborted!

    November 28, 2007 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. Wayne, Greenville TX

    He doesn't register as high in national polls because they don't ask about him.

    Posted By Andrew, Haslett, MI : November 28, 2007 12:19 pm

    Ron Paul doesn't register higher on national polls because people realize that because he's so far removed from the standard GOP party line that if he were to get nominated and elected, he'd be unable to govern – kind of like what Jesse Ventura faces when he was elected governor of Minnesota and had no backing in the state legislature.

    November 28, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  22. Wayne, Greenville TX

    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.

    Posted By Dave, Denton : November 28, 2007 12:51 pm

    Bad idea, Dave. There have been many times in the past where wrong concepts were popular. If a similar vote had been done 50 years ago regarding civil rights, we'd probably still be segregated today and it would still be illegal for a black man and a white woman to marry. We know that segregation and marriage bans are wrong today, but they were the accepted norm back in the days of Jim Crow.

    November 28, 2007 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  23. not Richard


    Yeah. Instead of charity, support effective gov't programs (like for example grants/loans for higher education), that aren't part of this or that person's religious institutions, and don't require any allegiance to a particular worldview. These programs already exist, and like the student loan program mentioned above, are usually constantly under assault by Republican politicians.

    November 28, 2007 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  24. cari, columbia, md

    They don't want women to have abortions, yet....they are against anything but teaching "abstinence only" for sex ed. Maybe if we had honest education about family planning and safe reliable access to birth control there wouldn't be so many unwanted pregnancies.

    November 28, 2007 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  25. Ian, Canton, Oh

    Hey come on, not every Pro-Lifer feels the way they do because of religion. I was, technically, an agnostic when I decided my position. I assumed murder is wrong, and defined abortion as murder, and concluded that abortion is wrong. Purely an exercise is logic. Right and wrong do not exist only in religion. And he is allowed to support a constitutional amendment banning abortion while respecting state authority. I'm still voting Democratic – these Republicans are nuts!

    November 28, 2007 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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