Romney the focus of questions at anti-abortion forum, despite absence
January 18th, 2012
10:06 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney the focus of questions at anti-abortion forum, despite absence

Greenville, South Carolina (CNN) - Four of the five remaining presidential candidates appeared in Greenville, South Carolina Wednesday night at an anti-abortion forum sponsored by Personhood USA.

But the missing candidate – Mitt Romney – was nonetheless present in both the moderators’ questions and the answers from the GOP contenders.

Tune in Thursday at 8 p.m. ET for the CNN/Southern Republican Presidential Debate hosted by John King and follow it on Twitter at #CNNDebate. For real-time coverage of the South Carolina primary, go to or to the CNN apps or CNN mobile web site.

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Each candidate received an opportunity for opening and closing remarks with roughly 20 minutes of questions in between. During that time, each candidate took his turn reaffirming his belief that life begins at conception, that Planned Parenthood should be de-funded and that as president he would fight abortion at the federal level.

According to the event’s organizers, Romney never responded to their invitation to appear at the forum, and in his absence the moderators asked each of his rivals specific questions pertaining to his record as former governor of Massachusetts-and each vowed to do exactly the opposite.

Rick Perry appeared first on the stage in the large ballroom at the Hilton Greenville Hotel and was asked to compare his anti-abortion record to that of Romney.

“You don't have enough time in here,” Perry joked, before describing a conversation he recently had with his son Griffin about how hard it was to believe Romney genuinely changed his position on such an important issue so late in life.

“It is clear to most of us this was a choice for convenience,” Perry said of Romney’s decision to take an anti-abortion stance after elected governor. “This was a decision that Governor Romney made for a political convenience not an issue of his hear.”

Newt Gingrich took the stage next, where he was quickly asked about Romney’s record of approving gay marriage licenses as governor. Romney has previously defended the action by saying his state’s Supreme Judicial Court forced his hand, but before taking on the issue of judiciary power, Gingrich took a shot at Romney.

“Governor Romney also – after having become pro-life – passed ‘Romneycare’ with taxpayer funded abortion, wrote Planned Parenthood into ‘Romneycare’ with no right-to-life group, his administration approved paying for an abortion clinic for Planned Parenthood with state funds, and he appointed pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage judges to the court,” Gingrich said. “So in terms of who's likely to change Washington, I would say his track record is not only not change, it's in the opposition direction.”

Next came Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, who were also asked questions about Romney’s record–the former about Romney’s passage of a health insurance mandate, and the latter about his failure to insist that an anti-abortion representative serve alongside a representative of Planned Parenthood on a state advisory board.

But rather than take the opportunity to slam the absent frontrunner, both candidates stuck to the substance of the questions.

Ron Paul received the loudest and most raucous response from the conservative crowd, despite his physical absence from the room. Having returned to Washington D.C. to vote against an increase in the nation’s borrowing limit, Paul appeared live via satellite and espoused what could be described as the only slightly nuanced anti-abortion position.

While most candidates promised to oppose abortion in all of its forms at the federal level if elected president, Paul stuck to his consistent preference for a limited federal government and argued abortion decisions should be left up to the states.

“We complain about the federal government all the time – we don’t want ‘Obamacare’ and all these other things – but all of a sudden we think, if they have control of it, they’re going to protect it,” Paul said. “But they ended up getting control in the courts, and they’ve done so much harm. So this is the reason I say that the best protection that we can give is give the right of the states to protect life as they see fit.”

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Filed under: 2012 • Abortion • Mitt Romney • South Carolina
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    Car full of Clowns .

    January 18, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  2. Larry L

    I remember a night in 1967 when a young girl bled-out after a back-room abortion. If these self-righteous, right-wingers had their way abortions would simply go back in the alleys and women would suffer like that girl we saw die in 1967. We now have laws controlling late-term abortions. Those who want a fertilized egg declared a "person" are radicals using semantics, not science, to manipulate the law. This is absolutely not a "state's rights" issue. This is a "woman's rights" situation.

    January 18, 2012 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This shouldn't be an issue that people base their vote on now or ever. This is something that should be safe, legal, and rare. I don't why these people insist on claiming to want to get government out of your life except for this.

    January 18, 2012 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  4. Satberry

    Willard does not have an ounce of courage in his body.I see why his limp sons did not join the army.The cowardly father and his sons .He will never be president of these United States.He cannot make a stand for anything.When there is controversy he is hiding.

    January 18, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  5. Liska

    I do not like Romney. But compared to these guys, .... Why is it they want smaller government ( which, I do not) except in my bedroom or within my womb? They are all fringe nutbags and I am enjoying them all going after each others' throats. Romney is too rich and too tax-havenesque. PO Box 908 Cayman Islands. And he needs to be knocked off his polo horse. Obama 2012

    January 18, 2012 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  6. Indeeds

    Once again an actual solution to social tension in the nation is proposed by Ron Paul. This isn't so much an issue of state's rights as it is diffusion of social issues from the Federal government so it can focus on the issues it's actually supposed to be focusing on. Let smaller areas with similar diversities decide thier policies, and others decide thiers. For the record, I am not prolife, and in my state, I'd probably be the minority regarding that issue.... and I'm ok with that.

    January 18, 2012 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  7. J.V.Hodgson

    This ( abortion) is such a divisive issue in the nation Ron Paul is right the only good compromise is state level laws and a requirement to get the 60 % vote in the state senate. Life does not begin at conception as fertilised eggs sometimes naturally fail. Can we be factual and scientifically correct. sometimes even with todays medical science well developed foetus are incapable of surviving to Birth and think about premature births where the baby dies within days, that baby never really "lived"
    Those people who would force a woman raped or woman subjected to incest or woman to keep the child or if her/its life is at risk, have never faced that situation and I say they have an inalienble free right to abort or even have the child. It has no business being the subject of laws. In the end such laws are futile as people will either resort to illegal underground solutions or if they can afford to do so go overseas to have the abortion. The law and politicians and religious based organisations like personhood have stuck thier noses into this matter much too far already, and in my view unconstitutionally ( or against the bill of rights) on three grounds :-
    1) Freedom of the individual.
    2) Freedom of religion eg my right to be an aetheist as just one example. My actual religion counsels against Abortion but it is the mothers first and other family members decision. Pressure goes away for rape victims, incest and either mother or childs life risk.
    3) You are mixing religion and politics by being of a certain faith. Then you say you will only support candidates who believe religion in your interpretation re Abortion etc.
    Please stop trying to convert religious beliefs in to law. Just honor your religion and be faithful and i'll respct you for it. But please do not try to force your beliefs/interpretation of religious texts on me, by making them law.
    The world is full of differing interpretations of gods laws, the real gem is that many of planned parenthood support also the death penalty.... mmm trying to get my head around that and failing.

    January 18, 2012 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  8. vic , nashville ,tn

    Its not getting better for Romney , he don’t need explain now we know where he stands

    January 18, 2012 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  9. Jane

    People like Mr. Santorum, et al., are in for quite a shock when they stand before their Maker (hopefully after long and full lives) and they finally realize that God did not, in fact, die and make them boss. Oh, to be a fly on the celestial wall!!

    January 19, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  10. David

    Romney is a robot! That's why he wears mom pants! It's to hide his robotic gearbox!

    January 19, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  11. buddhabill

    Oh this is good. I love watching these clowns eviscerate each other. All Obama and the Dems will need to do is replay the GOP's own attack ads to show that whoever gets the nomination is actually Satan incarnate...

    January 19, 2012 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  12. Marie MD

    It's a woman's choice not the taliban terrorist government of the teapublikans.

    January 19, 2012 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  13. Just Say No To Flipper

    I feel sorry for Flipper the Elitist Robot's checked shirt. That poor garment is completely innocent and doesn't deserve being used to "dress down" such a phony, pompous, out-of-touch corporate parasite trying to appear "regular."

    January 19, 2012 06:32 am at 6:32 am |