March 13th, 2012
11:57 PM ET
11 years ago

When Romney says 'get rid of' Planned Parenthood he means…

(CNN) – Mitt Romney reiterated his pledge to defund Planned Parenthood Tuesday, telling a local television reporter in a St. Louis suburb he would "get rid of" the women's health organization if he were president.

In context, Romney's remark appeared to refer to revoking federal funding for the group, which many conservatives oppose because it provides abortions. As president, Romney wouldn't be in position to "get rid of" Planned Parenthood because it isn't a government entity. But his Democratic critics were still quick to pounce with context or not.

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Answering a question from CNN affiliate KDSK of St. Louis, Romney listed off a series of programs he would either eliminate or defund in order to reduce the federal deficit, utilizing a frequent campaign line that he would ask whether a program is "so critical it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for."

"You get rid of Obamacare, but there are others," Romney the station. "Planned Parenthood, we're gonna get rid of that. The subsidy for Amtrak, I would eliminate that. The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, both excellent programs, but we can't afford to borrow money to pay for these things."

Speaking on CNN Tuesday night, Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said the candidate was listing programs, including Planned Parenthood, that could be defunded to balance the budget.

"He singled out some areas of the budget he would eliminate or curtail, all in the name of achieving a balanced budget," Fehrnstrom said.

He added, "It would not be getting rid of the organization. They have other sources of funding besides government operations, but in order to achieve balance, we have to make some tough decisions about spending."

The explanation didn't stop Planned Parenthood and Romney's Democratic rivals from hitting back at the comment. In a statement, President Barack Obama's deputy campaign manager said the remark was "offensive."

"Mitt Romney's comments today that he would 'get rid of' Planned Parenthood show how low he is willing to go to pander to the most extreme elements of the Republican base," Stephanie Cutter said. "Planned Parenthood is a vital health care provider for millions of American women, giving them affordable access to life-saving services like mammograms and cervical cancer screenings."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, also characterized Romney's words as a play to the conservative wing of the GOP.

"He did everything he could to pander to the far right wing of his party with extreme and out-of-touch positions like vowing to get rid of Planned Parenthood, as he did today," Schultz said in a statement Tuesday.

Planned Parenthood defended its work against Romney's plan, saying the services it provides help protect women's health.

"When Mitt Romney says he wants to 'get rid' of Planned Parenthood, he means getting rid of the preventive health care that three million people a year rely on for cancer screenings, birth control, and other preventive care. This is dangerous and out of step with what most Americans want," Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President for Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement.

CNN's Peter Hamby, Jessica Yellin, Justin Lear and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Planned Parenthood
soundoff (281 Responses)

    Gaffe master strikes again. No problem. The teabaggers will continue to cut him down.

    March 14, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. cindy

    Oh, good. Just what we need! Under Romney we wouldn't have to worry about Planned Parenhood diagnosing and treating poor women with breast or reproductive diseases. We can just let the poor go ahead and die. It's better that way. If you're a Republican I guess you would agree since reproductive health care is 95% of what Planned Parenthood does. Yup, shut down 95% good work to take out 5% abortions. Talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwaterL- LITERALLY – because pre-natal care is included in the 95% of non-abortion services offered.

    March 14, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  3. bkgrandma

    Not only does he want to cut services to women but he also mentioned cutting public transit (Amtrak) and the Arts and Humanities. At the rate he's claiming he will cut programs that affect millions of people in this country, my guess is if he does get the nomination the only votes he will get are from Rich White Men. OK Mitt, keep putting your foot in your mouth and then you get to do what you do best..FLIP FLOP!

    March 14, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |

    Keep talking Mitt McCain.

    March 14, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  5. Publius Novus

    @ Fair is Fair. "Well, Larry... I guess there's no way to refute your statement. Clever accounting can hide a lot of things, I guess. Personally, I don't buy it. I can't prove it, I just don't buy it. And quite honestly, the whole "wink wink nudge nudge" no federal money goes towards abortions is akin to Israel saying they don't have nuclear weapons... everyone knows they do, they just can't prove it."

    You're right about that accounting stuff. Money IS fungible. So what's the difference between a tax cut and increased federal spending?

    March 14, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  6. Mr. Moderate

    I would think the pro-life crowd would be more supportive of the organization that has PREVENTED more abortions than any other.

    March 14, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
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