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. namo

    Being Pro- Life will cost votes as most people believe that to bear a child is a women's decision and only she knows if she wants to take that on.

    November 28, 2007 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  2. Jason, Lexington, KY

    Just reading the phrase "unwanted child" makes me shiver when I think about our morals and priorities in this nation. The word "choice" has been twisted to fit our own selfish desires. "Freedom" is now used to excuse our bad choices. True freedom is really interdependance, respecting each other, and living within moral laws. Why are we even here on earth? Is it just to get ahead? Think about it.

    November 28, 2007 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  3. John Nc

    I believe that the majority of the voters are against abortion and that the candidate (Republican or Democrat) who runs on an anti-abortion platform will win the White House.

    November 28, 2007 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. Cathy R.

    Mitt can take a walk. I would never vote for this flip-flopper. Abortion is not a religious argument, but an argument for humanity. Ultrasound proves this is not a blob of tissue, but a human. To call it a religious argument is an attempt to invalidate it. Even animals have rights against cruelty. Abortion has not stemmed the tide of child abuse, or unwed births, but increased it with deprivation of consequences. Murders still happen with the DP, but we wouldn't make it legal because people "do it anyway".

    November 28, 2007 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  5. Flagship, Hartford, CT

    A 12 year old girl gets pulled into an alley and gets beaten and gang raped by five guys, then get pregnant.
    Do we force her re-live the ordeal for nine months and have the baby?
    She would only be in 7th grade.
    A drunk father comes home one night, goes to his daughters room and rapes her.
    Two weeks later this 8th grade girl is pregnant.
    Force her to have her father's baby while she is still in middle school?

    November 28, 2007 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. Tony, Columbus, Ohio

    The GOP candidates should take a look at what happened to Ken Blackwell, the GOP nominee for Ohio Governor in 2006. Blackwell ran so far to the right to win the primary that he had no middle ground left from which he could campaign in the general election. He lost in a landslide. My predition is that whomever wins the GOP nomination will emerge completely unelectable.

    November 28, 2007 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. Jeff b, new york, ny

    I think each state should be allowed to determine if abortions should be legal. However, the states that do allow abortions should then keep track of all abortions performed on women from states where it's illegal (valid state IDs required). We'd then be able to determine how phony "conservatives" and "evangelicals" really are.

    November 28, 2007 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  8. John Klainski Tarpon Springs FL

    Let me be sure I understand....a SC conservative leader complaining that something in the abortion discourse being over simolified? Now if that ain't the pot callin' the kettle..

    November 28, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  9. Karen, Boca Raton, FL

    Clearly, none of the GOP candidates have read what the founding fathers wrote when drafting the constitution and their reasons for specifically including a separation of church and state clause therein. Talk about brilliant forsight. There is a reason that the constitution was drafted and ratified to include a constitutional separation of church and state – it was that religious persecution that the early colonists fled and the founding fathers were trying to keep from repeating with the birth of this nation. What the original signors had to say about their beliefs and the importance of not imposing those personal beliefs on an entire and collective people is truly magnificent. It would be nice if those running for office could take the time to read those comments as well.

    It would be nice if ANY of the candidates would remember that we are a nation of WE THE PEOPLE, not WE THE GOVERNMENT ... and act towards the betterment of our nation instead of dividing it to enforce a few personal beliefs founded WHOLLY in religion.

    It would be nice...

    November 28, 2007 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. Andrew, Atlanta, GA

    Ah, these conservatives who scream about less influence of the federal government and then want MORE influence of the federal government when they can't win on a state-by-state basis. Boy how I hate hypocrisy.

    November 28, 2007 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. Joco, Manchester, NH

    I never thought Romney would become governor of Massachusetts – and while he was there he worked exclusively on his run for presidency. This man is potentially dangerous to this country and makes the current president look like Goldilocks.

    November 28, 2007 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  12. Joseph, Grand Rapids, MI

    Mitt Romney will be the one to win in IA,MI, and NH. I think it is great that Romney has changed from Pro-Choice to Pro-Life. Isn't that what we want as Christians? Don't we want to encouarge those who are currently Pro-Choice to take a honest look at life for the unborn? I find it very interesting that so many want to throw mud at the man with the strongest family, and has done so well economically! Romney has my vote, and I know he will be the next President of the USA! He is the only one who stands as the clear chance against the Hillary machine in 2008!

    November 28, 2007 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. Sonya, Phoenix, Arizona


    I wish every man (and I do mean men, not the supposed "generic" inclusion of women) could experience first hand with their own bodies what its like to carry for 9 months and give birth to a child. If men could experience the "wonder" of child birth, abortion and birth control would become a god given right rather than one women have to fight for every 4 years depending on which yahoo happens to be in office at the time.

    The fact that these idiots also want birth control taken away speaks volumes of their real goal and that is to control women not protect children.

    I do hope god hates hypocrites because the GOP will be burning!

    November 28, 2007 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  14. John P NYC

    Pro Lifers aren't limited to neocons and the far right. I am a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. I am a former Repub but Bush changed that in a hurry.I think Romney will need more than his pro-life position to get the nod from Repubs.

    The reason Ron Paul rarely gets mentioned is that he dead last in the polls.

    November 28, 2007 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  15. Odessa, Washington DC

    I hate to break it to you, but Hillary will completely destroy Mitt in the general election if he is the Republican candidate. He stands no chance against her. Not one.

    November 28, 2007 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  16. Dave, New York, NY

    If pro-lifers really had their act together, they would support Universal Healthcare.

    'nuff said.

    November 28, 2007 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  17. Don Savage

    This is just a end run around a hot topic from a neocon. He wants to make pro choice illegal period. Never mind his political fast talk like "federalism".

    November 28, 2007 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  18. Joseph, Grand Rapids, MI

    Hillary has no values. Hillary has zero character, and every honest American that takes a real look at her will vote for anyone else, even Romney in 2008! Hillary would be nothing if Bill Clinton wasn't her husband, period. She has done nothing that main stream Americans can relate with. Wake up! She will never be President!

    November 28, 2007 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  19. bob, laguna beach, ca

    Imagine...another republican hypocrite.

    November 28, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. Sheryl, Livonia, Michigan

    FLIP FLOP FLIP FLOP FLIP FLOP....He is not pro life until he decided to run for President? These politicians must think we are stupid. Romney may as well drop out of the election now. No Christian is going to vote for him. They don't believe he will remain committed to the pro life stance and Evangelical Christians think the Mormon Church is cult-like. Case closed.

    November 28, 2007 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  21. Ann in Des Moines, IA

    Option A: Pro-Life
    Meaning the Government makes the call.

    Option B: Pro-Choice
    Meaning the woman has a choice.

    This is a no-brainer. I was adopted as an infant and am personally Pro-Life. However, I ask myself what type world I need to live in where the Government tells me that is my only legal choice.

    November 28, 2007 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  22. Mike - NYC

    How can a candidate pledge "to uphold the Constitution", and (at the same time) campaign to amend it?

    November 28, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  23. Ken, Newmarket, NH

    Why do male politicans feel that they should be able to determine what a woman can or cannot do with her body? I am not pro-abortion and I am not anti-life but this is a decision for a woman and her doctor. If you're anti-abortion, how many adopted children do you have?

    November 28, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  24. J. Denver, CO

    I dont think this issue should be governmentally controlled but lets get something straight.

    95% of abortions are not because of rape, incest, or medical reasons. They are starting to become a form of birth control and that is just wrong! I understand some circumstances where it may be needed but more and more people are loosing respect for the miracle of birth. The argument that rape victims will be forced to live with their assault forever is valid but applies to such a small minority it carries very little weight.

    November 28, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  25. JHA

    I dream of a day when people realize how divisive these religiously motivated issues are. Remember the whole freedom of religion thing in the constitution? Apparently not! Canadites on both sides just can't ignore the temptation of bowing to the christian coalition. I wish everyone in this country would GROW UP! and realize that the world is full of religions, and maybe it would be better if our leaders did not form their arguements based on what the local church says to do. Doesn't anyone get the idea? Where does ethics fall into all of this? I'm not saying that I want all of our leaders to be atheists, but is it too much to ask that they have the ability to relate to the world in an ethical way NOT a religious one. All these canidates have to check with there church leaders before they say anything these days. And yet when Kennedy ran people worried we'd be told what to do by the pope. Where are those people now- or are you all just complete hypocrites?

    Although I'm not surprise Mitt changed his mind upon visiting the state. John McCain drank the water and decided to change religions when he came to SC.

    November 28, 2007 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
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