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. teejaym

    Yeah. He thought the reporter was asking about some state law concerning contraception. This guy is such a snake.

    February 29, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  2. Melo-D

    So Romney can't understand a simple question? The reporter said the Blunt-Rubio bill, it was a pretty straight forward question. Romney is a stooge. He probably has to make notes to himself about where he stands on the issues from day to day.

    February 29, 2012 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  3. S. B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Contraception is medicine. I don't understand why there is anything more than that. If you don't want unplanned pregnancies, then this should be supported. It is easier to do this than expect everyone not to have sex. People are going to do that. This is one of the reasons why abstenence only programs fail all the time. Just ask the Palin family about that.

    February 29, 2012 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  4. T'sah From Virginia

    ►TRENDING: Romney stumbles over question about GOP contraception push◄
    He didn't "stumble" – He just got caught up in a typical "flip-flop" and landed in a thorn bush!!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!

    February 29, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  5. Sirned

    Republicans... Enough already with contraception bills... We aren't paying you guys the big bucks to be the morality Church leaders. Quit wasting tax payers money on this nonsense...Remember the Jobs you promised us if you got elected?

    February 29, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  6. MadMaximus

    As an employer, I would like to use Blunt's amendment if passed to not only eliminate birth control for my employees, but also would like to exclude coverage for Type II Diabetes (gluttony is sin!), vaccinations (I am morally offended by them), and any injuries sustained from automobile accidents (I have Amish-leaning beliefs and believe technology is "bad", including operation of motor vehicles). I assume everyone who supports this measure is perfectly OK with this, yes?

    February 29, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  7. DanW

    Listen to Kennedy's speech. Listen to Santorum's response. The man doesn't understand what he is listening to, then goes off on a rant. Do you really want him as president?

    February 29, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  8. dan5404

    He has been on both sides of many issues, it is understandable that he would forget what his postion is today. Just remember Mitt: if it's for women's rights to control their bodies and health, just say no. As a matter of fact, if you just say no to everything you will be in line with the ultra conservative GOP.

    February 29, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  9. joe

    I don't understand the question having read it five times.

    March 1, 2012 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  10. joe

    Cut the guy some slack. The interview question is convoluted and makes no sense.

    March 1, 2012 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  11. Lawrence

    The Blunt Amendment would allow an employer to opt out their employees from ANY health care coverage based on an employers personal belief: vaccines, blood transfusions, even ANY health care at all if the employer believes, for example, in "faith based" prayer only care.

    A business owner who objected to, for instance, childhood vaccinations on religious grounds could have an insurance plan that did not cover them, in effect overriding a federal requirement that vaccinations be provided free with any health-insurance plan.

    In 1990, six children denied care on religious beliefs – whose parents were members of the Faith Tabernacle and First Century Gospel Church in Philadelphia – died of complications following measles. A local health official said that five of the children could have been saved with medical care. All 6 would probably be alive today if they had been vaccinated.

    The son of Dennis and Lorie Nixon, members of Faith Tabernacle Congregation, died as a result of an ear infection that was left untreated, except for prayer. 4 years later, their daughter Shannon died at the age of 16 of juvenile diabetes. She was anointed with oil and prayed over. Three days later, she went into a coma and died. Both diseases are not normally life threatening if treated medically.

    Call, telegram or email your senator to oppose this ill-conceived legislation!

    March 1, 2012 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  12. roro

    Flip flop, flip flop, flip flop. It's like watching a tennis match. Which side is he on now? Can you imagine him as president doing all this flipping and flopping? Romney, take a stand and stick to it, or don't you even know what you believe in?

    March 1, 2012 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  13. Josh

    Are people this crazy? he misunderstands a question, whcih was worded in a confusing way, and now all these accusations come out of changing position. Give me a break. How superficial can these attacks be.

    March 1, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  14. Riotous

    Yikes. What a flip-flopper.

    Mittens is definitely not ready for prime time, and not fit to lead America.

    Good luck with the vote of women, Mittens. You ain't gonna get many.

    March 1, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  15. john smith

    Is this Romney for real. Its like a constant clean up behind him kinda guy who doesnt know what he stands for. Lets hope one of the other 3 candidates gains traction or its another 4 for the current resident.

    March 1, 2012 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  16. fernace

    "Religious freedom" does not include denying necessary health care & insurance to provide it! It pertains to churches, not businesses run by various religions! This & other measures that are already put in place, are geared toward putting women in "their place"! We aren't having it! We will go back to the Last Turn of the Century kicking & screaming! We can still vote!!

    March 1, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  17. Krysis

    Lmao. I love it!!! If this is the best conservatives have to offer, I urge them to go back to the drawing board; and then to the place where drawing boards are made!!! I think every body knows he was just speaking his mind. Which should be a great thing, but serves as a detriment to votin republicans. The GOP can look to become shutout of national elections in all places by the south if they don't start offering up MODIFIED and NEW ideas. Not recycled talking points and divisive pandering.

    March 1, 2012 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  18. CBR

    The question appears to be pretty straight forward. Perhaps Mr. Romney was confused about his own views on the subject. It would be to his advantage to be himself and let his own views get him nominated instead of trying to appease members of his Party.

    March 1, 2012 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  19. Derek

    Ummm...does anyone know if the Catholic Church or certain other chruches cover vasectomies? It's all talking about female contraception, and in our society the burden is definitely on the female, which of course makes complete sense as old white guys are debating an outdated, idiotic policy. Does Jehovah's Witness have an insurance plan (including people just working for the organization, not necessarily members of the church) that forbids any kind of blood transfusion? That would be unethical, so why is this not?

    March 1, 2012 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  20. BeverlyNC

    Romney did not misunderstand the question. His "handlers" had him yet again flip-flop on an important position. This one is of critical importance to women all over the nation regardless of Party. Romney proved he cannot be trusted on any issue. He is not a leader He will betray anyone on any issue within minutes. This is not a President, not a man of principle and not a man who will ever be anything but a clueless rich elitist who lives in his own world. Go away Romney. We have an outstanding President who is a real leader, a real fighter for the People, with a proven success record, a jobs creator, an economic restorer, and a transformer of foreign policy. He is the People's President. The nation and the People will stay with our President Obama. He is a true man of values, character, honor, and integrity.

    March 1, 2012 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  21. Indyswimmer66

    This guy (Romney) is a danger to himself... and others. It's becoming obvious... there's something seriously wrong with this man, possibly early-onset Alzheimer's, or something.

    March 1, 2012 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  22. Bob Caustic

    Romney is going nowhere fast. If the GOP has a snowball's chance in helll, some new contentender has to enter...

    March 1, 2012 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  23. dan

    Contraception is not up to any political leader to decide. That decision is for women and their own personal beliefs.

    March 1, 2012 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  24. enuff

    I want it opposed. What company has the right to tell me what is moral when white collar crimes are higher? How will they define morality when they are just looking to save a buck? They especially are not going to tell me what is moral when it comes to my body. Romney should stick with his answer. Oh, I forgot, comanies are people too. i however, will not let another "person" dictate their so called morality when their hand is in the cookie jar.

    March 1, 2012 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  25. nolimits3333

    Republicans want everyone to have guns, and no one to have health care.

    March 1, 2012 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
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