Romney stumbles over question about GOP contraception push
February 29th, 2012
06:34 PM ET
9 years ago

Romney stumbles over question about GOP contraception push

Columbus, Ohio (CNN) - Mitt Romney's campaign scrambled to clean up another unforced error by their candidate Wednesday after he came out against a controversial amendment pushed by Senate Republicans that would allow employers to opt out of health care coverage they disagree with on moral grounds.

Romney's statement, which came in an afternoon interview with Ohio News Network, quickly reverberated around the Internet and prompted Romney's campaign to clarify that the opposite was true, and that the former Massachusetts governor, in fact, supports the legislation.

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"The way the question was asked was confusing," campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an email blasted out to reporters after Romney's became the subject of a flurry of tweets. "Gov. Romney supports the Blunt Bill because he believes in a conscience exemption in health care for religious institutions and people of faith."

The amendment, drafted by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a Romney supporter, is an attempt by Senate Republicans to confront head-on a simmering controversy over rules governing religious employers and coverage they are required to provide.

The Senate is expected to take up the bill on Thursday.

The uproar was sparked by a move by the Obama administration that would have required employers to provide contraception to their employees - regardless of the employer's religious beliefs. Representatives from the Catholic church advocated strongly against the measure.

The White House has since backed off on that requirement, and instead said insurers must cover birth control if the employer does not.

In the sit down interview with Ohio's ONN, Romney was asked whether he supported the Blunt measure.

"The issue of birth control, contraception, Blunt-Rubio is being debated, I believe, later this week. It deals with banning or allowing employers to ban providing female contraception," asked the reporter, Jim Heath. "Have you taken a position on it? He (Santorum) said he was for that, we'll talk about personhood in a second; but he's for that, have you taken a position?"

Romney responded: "I'm not for the bill, but look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a women, husband and wife, I'm not going there."

As they worked to fix the off-message comment, which was already being circulated to reporters by conservative political operatives, the Romney campaign criticized the "rushed" nature of the question and pointed out that the amendment does not "ban" contraception.

For his part, Romney, appearing on the Howie Carr radio show after the ONN interview, said he misunderstood the question.

"I didn't understand his question. Of course, I support the Blunt amendment. I thought he was talking about some state law that prevented people from getting contraception. So I was simply misunderstood the question and of course I support the Blunt amendment," Romney said before further outlining his position in support of the amendment.

"I simply misunderstood what he was talking about. I thought it was some Ohio legislation that, where employers were prevented from providing contraceptives so I talked about contraceptives and so forth. I really misunderstood the question," Romney said. "Of course Roy Blunt who is my liaison to the Senate is someone I support and of course I support that amendment. I clearly want to have religious exemption from 'Obamacare.'"

Meanwhile, Obama's re-election team wasted no time Wednesday pouncing on Romney's comments, saying in a statement that Romney showed in one hour "why women don't trust him for one minute."

"It took little more than an hour for him to commit his latest flip-flop," Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager, said in the statement. "Even worse, he ended up on the wrong side of an issue of critical importance to women.”

Also piling on the criticism, Santorum's campaign released a statement accusing Romney of giving a "troubling" first reaction to the question.

"As Governor, Mitt Romney has a clear record of taking away the freedom of religion," Santorum's national communications director Hogan Gidley said in a statement. "We all know Romney's liberal record on this, so when he's asked a question about a bill that would protect our religious freedom – and Romney's gut reaction is to say he'd oppose it – we shouldn't be the least bit surprised."

Also see:

DNC: Romney out of touch

Super PACs provide air cover to GOP candidates

NFL moves opening game for Obama convention speech

Citing partisanship, Snowe stuns with departure news

Filed under: 2012 • Health care • Mitt Romney
soundoff (289 Responses)
  1. Grundoon

    He's never met the side of an issue he didn't like. He's doomed.

    Flip-Flopper's Delight by Grand Flipper Mitt

    Flip flop flippy
    Flippy to the flip, flip floppin';
    You don't stop a'floppin'
    To the flim-flam flippy
    You don't stop the floppy
    To the flipy to the floppy that be . . .

    February 29, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  2. Romney will say ANYTHING to get elected

    Romney will say ANYTHING to get elected.

    February 29, 2012 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  3. Mkas

    He just forgot which group he was speaking to, that's all. Which side of the flip/ flop is he on today?

    February 29, 2012 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  4. IndeePendant

    Romney is doing political gymnastics, with somersaluts resulting in trips-and-traps because of his flips n flops :))

    February 29, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  5. Texas Doc

    Oh my God! Is this really the best we can do? This is ridiculous.

    February 29, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  6. CJPA

    As that old sage Rick Perry would say, :Oops!" (again)

    February 29, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  7. Joseph Smith

    Maybe if they asked Willard this question in French, he would have understood it?

    February 29, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  8. Roland

    Just exactly what about that question was confusing?

    February 29, 2012 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  9. Just not Ready

    Ever notice Romney never takes responsibility.

    If something succeeds or is popular , he says I did this I did that.
    If something is not popular, then he says we, everybody, the legislature all believed xyz and agree. He never accept responsibility.
    Now here he goes again, How can you not understand such a straight forward question.
    Can't republicans see this guy is not authentic ?

    I am an independent, and he is not getting my vote.

    February 29, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  10. JS

    The media is distracting everyone with silly issues as if we're supposed to have candidates that are super humans from outer space that make no mistake. We're all forgetting that we have a President that is taking the country into a disastrous path who deep inside has an old contempt against the way the US was founded and couldn't careless about the constitution. This president has injected division between people that I've never seen before. I don't care who the GOP nominee is, we can't have Obama another 4 years.

    February 29, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  11. GoodLaugh

    And here I thought Romney couldn't dig his hole any deeper. I stand corrected. At this rate he'll reach China in no time.

    February 29, 2012 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  12. billy davis

    From the party that allowed the US's credit rating to drop because they refused to work with the POTUS are quick to try to regulate a woman's womb.

    February 29, 2012 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  13. John N Florida

    Just go for it GOP. The women of America are going to give you such a 'whuppin' in 2012. Reagan's 'Landslide' is going to look like a small rock fall by comparison.

    February 29, 2012 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  14. jack leddy

    I think that Romney really is a closet moderate. However, he is trying to get the nomination of the Taliban Lite Party. No wonder he makes so many mistakes.

    February 29, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  15. vladimir.

    Flip flop Mitt. He will never be a president in this country cause he is a liar, he has an anger issues, change his positions all the time. America, we can't let that happen:).

    February 29, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  16. bobcat2u

    And you people are seriously considering this man to be POTUS ? If he can't even get a handle on simple legislation like this, what do you think will happen if he speaks before he understands something on a world catastrophy level ? This is the type of man who could "accidently" get us into a war because he didn't understand the question. That's a scary thought to me.

    February 29, 2012 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  17. partysstink

    Stumbel wow hes winning so only cnn sees it this way.

    February 29, 2012 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  18. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    remember in the 2008 campaign when it was asked "who would you want to answer that 2am phone call?" Well just think if it were Mitt Romney that had to do it. He would answer the call then 15 minutes later change his mind and try to call back. Think about it America.

    February 29, 2012 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  19. Doug

    Roy Blunt has done zero for Missouri and now attacks women. Obviously Romney is a weather vane, going whichever way the strongest wind blows. WAKE UP MISSOURI...Get rid of Blunt. He favors the rich, like buddy romney.

    February 29, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  20. S. Winkler

    I think that we should ban Viagra while we are at it since it encourages sinfull sex and increases the demand for anti- Catholic contraceptive devices and drugs. What`s good for the goose is good for the gander. Romney is a twit.

    February 29, 2012 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  21. izy

    doubletalk romney, lol....loser

    February 29, 2012 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  22. Wobbly Walker

    Like those Coors Light commercial, "here we go!"

    February 29, 2012 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  23. TrueGrit

    Go Mittens go!

    February 29, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  24. cogboy

    ok so what part of "i'm not for the bill" is indicative of him actually supporting it but misunderstanding the question? this guy is not just a serial flip-flopper, he is a pathological liar.

    February 29, 2012 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  25. mike

    "The Senate is expected to take up the bill on Thursday." Don't ya got more important things to do????????????

    February 29, 2012 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
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