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.

Also see:

Romney speaks up for Hatch in new TV ad

Romney focused on Obama and gas prices, not competitors

Another Republican joins primary battle to face Gillibrand

Religion, gas prices, and beating Obama on the minds of Alabama voters

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

    I wish CNN or some other reputable network (which leaves Fox News out) would run the video when Romney was running for Governor and he AND Mrs. Romney contributed $$ to Planned Parenthood, and he stood up in front of large audiences and confirmed that 'a woman's reproductive health is nobody's business but her' and that he 100% supported a woman's right to choose. Of course, that was when he was pandering to a different audience – so, was he lying then or is he lying now??

    March 14, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  2. helomoto12354

    We've proven many times that rarely does Planned Parenthood provide Mammogram. CNN you're supposed to be providing honest facts!! Biased much?

    March 14, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  3. Dwayne

    He really didn't mean get rid of Planned Parenthood,
    He means he's going to Fire them.

    March 14, 2012 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  4. MaryM

    lol, right Mitt, that will definately get you the women vote.

    March 14, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  5. Paul Ernest Show

    Romney's plan of getting rid of Planned parenthood is a sign of the times for women. It's an ominous indication that the GOP has a plan to win and run the country with women as less of what they have always been- equal partners. If the attacks on women's rights were coming from the Vatican it would have been understood or at least excused. But when they are coming from GOP candidates, it is a great disappointment and wake-up call on all women.

    March 14, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  6. Howard's Daddy

    Nice plan and it would probably work if he can magically remove women's right to vote.

    March 14, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  7. Csm. Wiggins son

    Willard speaks =bs. Then willard tries to clean up bs which = more bs all while republicans cringe lol. This guy makes more mistakes then bush ever did. That's terrible, I mean he does not know what he stands for. Not a fan but Santoram has principles and sticks by them as misguided as they may be.

    March 14, 2012 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
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    March 14, 2012 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  9. ct

    here goes mitt putting his foot in his mouth again...dats right, it was taken out of context, right mitt?

    March 14, 2012 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  10. Nobodies Pon

    The guy is not a finished product after a six year head start. The guy continue.s to put his foot in his mouth. His vocals are good but the words come out and your like why would he say that oh my bad its election season

    March 14, 2012 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  11. carlos

    well,he is an it is confirmed!!!!!...and he got his butt beaten badly last night........

    March 14, 2012 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  12. Larry L

    Maybe Romney should try wearing a Klan sheet for the next debate. Do right-wing Mormons burn crosses? He's tried everything else to prove himself to be just as backward and narrow-minded as the rest of the candidates. Maybe he could shoot a possum and eat it with "cheesy grits"!

    Is winning the Presidency such a great prize that educated, progressive Republicans will sell their souls to a bunch of bigoted, xenophobic, homophobic, sexist, anti-science, head-in-the-sand fear-mongers? The answer is yes.

    March 14, 2012 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  13. Name: DParke

    Alabama and Mississippi WTH?  Seriously?  Conservatives need to decide do you want Santorum as our nominee OR do you want Obama out of office. It is 100% impossible to have both. If Rick is our nominee Obama will crush him. He will be nothing more than a snack for team Obama. Like him or not, Romney is the only one seasoned and polished enough to stand up to Obama.

    March 14, 2012 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  14. Name: DParke

    Rick has turned off the independent and moderates, and the Nominee will not win without them. They will either vote for Obama or just stay home. Either way it translates to 4 more yrs w Obama.  The time for dreaming of a "perfect" nominee is over. If you want Obama out, Romney is our ONLY choice. Rally around him and let's get on with it already!

    March 14, 2012 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  15. Nobodies Pon

    He is going to get the dems out in force come november. Mitt keeps this up

    March 14, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  16. Fire0bama

    The Dems are small people.

    March 14, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  17. Liska

    So where will we go...we who have no insurance for health screening, Thurston Howell? Where can I get my mammograms? My Paps? What about preventative health care that I depend upon? Do you know how many women's lives are saved each year? AND how many women will die without these medical screenings? Where is your core? And now to hear you threaten this against PPH makes me sick, you who make 120,000 $ A DAY, you who have no right nor the power to 'get rid of PPH". BHO 2012 Landslide / Elizabeth Warren 2016 2024

    March 14, 2012 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
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  19. thomas

    The New Mormon King !

    When Mitts wife says most woman are worried about the national debt , It was apparent she is out of touch with the common people. Most Mothers are worried about education and health.

    March 14, 2012 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  20. rose

    What happened to the republican party? Why are there nothing but morons in evidence?

    Surely there still exist some reasonable, fiscally responsible socially moderate people out there. Or maybe they've all been eaten by teazombies.

    March 14, 2012 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  21. John Smith

    Can any of the Republican candicates, including Romney, tell us what it takes to defeat such a popular, learned, and well-liked President of the U.S? For the first time, American had the opportunity to show pride to the world at large in someone like President Obama, and all we hear from the day he was elected to office is "hate" and strong emotions of "hate."

    For Christians, in particular, this is a real shame– "love" thy ememy as yourself– is certainly not from their professed creator!

    March 14, 2012 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  22. brooke

    Wow. Now I know exactly who not to vote for

    March 14, 2012 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
  23. Nobodies Pon

    Welcome the romney replacement to planned parenthood. Unplanned parenthood. 16 and pregnant going to have to hire some more camera men to shoot new episodes if romney has his way.

    March 14, 2012 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  24. danielwalldammit

    Tell me again how the "war on women" is a contrived gambit?

    March 14, 2012 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  25. TBONE

    For anybody suggesting Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton or Ron Paul, forget it, Bush and Clinton dynasties and some of their policies is the reason for the mess and Ron Paul though has some good ideas, but I feel he is a official Washington Insider and too old to be President. Just like there's an age limit on when an average person can sign up for the military, there should be a age limit to run for President.

    March 14, 2012 03:27 am at 3:27 am |
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