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)
  1. Susan

    @Ken in MD - As a republican woman I have not surrendered a single liberty. There is not a thing that Romney is suggesting that would make it illegal for me to continue a life as either pro-choice or pro-life. And, as a proud woman, I and I alone, will continue to be responsible for my actions – not the federal government.

    What amazes me is not why women vote republican, but why supposed liberals vote democrat – the party that wants to govern and regulate every aspect of their lives.

    March 14, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. Gork

    Here's something for all you Republicans to keep in mind – he's not going to cut squat until he gets elected and, since that's never going to happen, don't get all excited, it's only hot air....

    March 14, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  3. Publius Novus

    This is no different than a great deal of what Romney says. Like, he'll "get rid of Obamacare." Unless he wins the presidency and his coattails are exceedingly long, he won't be "getting rid" of much. As long as there are 40 Democrats in the Senate, Obamacare will not be repealed. It's called the filibuster, Mitt. Back when I was a kid, on our working-class, public playground, we used to say "What goes around, comes around." All those GOP filibusters are going to "come around," Mr. Mittens.

    March 14, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  4. Hugganoak

    "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 ...."
    .... When we could be using that money to give tax cuts to the wealthy and big corporations.

    March 14, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  5. MikeB

    There is no way we should be giving federal or state money to Planned Parenthood. This is primarily a political organization, anyways. We have thousands of poor children, doing without healthcare, roads and highways in disrepair, and a budget deficit that is obscene. It is flat out immoral to give those scares funds to a Democrat political group.

    March 14, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  6. CaliforniaBC

    Yep, there ya go Romney...keep pushing yourself farther to the Right so you'll never convince independents that you're sane enough to lead.

    Plus, be sure and keep it quite that Bane Capital is part owner of Clearwire, the radio conglomerate that owns Limbaugh's show.

    March 14, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  7. Deborah

    A number of organizations provide mammograms and cervical cancer screenings. The government does not need to provide funding to a group who thinks that life begins once one passes through the birth canal.

    March 14, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  8. GODPart2

    Panderbear strikes again.

    March 14, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  9. Tinisha

    ReallY? if you believe so much in personnal responsibility you must be an advocate of the Affordable Care Act right. Because it is requiring those that do not have medical insurance to purchase their own and if they dont there would be consequences. I too am tired of my insurance premiums going up because some decides to not buy medical insurance and goes the the ER for a brusied toe or a cold. Am I correct in my assumption or is it that you only agree with personal responisibliity when its a Republican idea. By the way Planned Parenthood provides medical services for people who cannot afford to buy expensive insurance on their own or when their employer doesnt offer it. It gives those people who have limited income an option to get good medical coverage. As an American that is something that I can support because I am my brother/sister's keeper and I believe that we as a nation who has so much can afford to take care of those who have so little and cannot take care of themselves.

    March 14, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  10. BB

    @ Ken in MD: because they are barefoot and pregnant.

    March 14, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. Stacey

    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.

    Yep, get rid of PP the same way Mr. One Percent got rid of thousands of jobs by outsourcing them. That's all this rich dork talks and lies about is getting rid of something. I can't wait until November 2012 so that President Obama can get rid of Mr. Flip Flopper and the rest of the pandering GOP clowns. The GOP will pay dearly for attacking women.

    March 14, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  12. Richard T.

    More proof of the GOP's determination in their war on Women's health.

    March 14, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  13. New Age Independant

    Even to my more liberal friends, it was obvious what Romney was referring to. This reeks of desperation on the part of Democrats.

    March 14, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  14. Ann

    For all of the uneducated posting here – women do not want taxpayer dollars to pay for birth control – they just want health insurance to cover it – just like health insurance covers vasectomies, viagra, etc.

    March 14, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  15. tibs

    Cut the uselessness overseas, not the cool programs like national endowment for the arts. I dont get how people can accept cutting things like that when the other waste is so much more blatant.

    March 14, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  16. Stacey

    We have spent our kids and grandkids tax income. So why stop there. Lets go for the next generation.
    Women are running around claiming there is a War on them and the need their abortion, contraception, child care, etc to be paid for by taxpayers. So this just prove these women care more about themselves than their own children – that is the ones they did not abort.
    Sorry kids and grandkids but you have to pay for my abortion, my contraception and any other free stuff I want.

    LOL! Funny how some folks never said a word when George W. Bush was spending trillions! The GOP has nothing of substance to run on, so go after women and other social issues, oh yeah and make sure you attack and demonize the black president. So lame and outdated. You will lose in November! Yay!

    March 14, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  17. Tony1954

    He said he wants to cut Federal funding to Planned Parenthood since federal funds are not permitted to be used for abortions. You liberal freaks need to get your facts straight.

    March 14, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  18. scmom

    Well said Mr. John Smith, they all profess real christian values It really shows just how backwards this country really is. No change at all and it is truly sad. And all this just to be called the president of the United States(and that means all).

    March 14, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  19. anita

    why woulld any woman vote for any one of these idiots that don't have the guts to call out rush? planned parenthood is in the business of healthcare for women. where are these compassionate christians as thousands die for lack of care? what kind of a country have we become?

    March 14, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  20. thomas mc

    Republicans sure have picked the wrong fights this election!

    March 14, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. Stroker53

    OMG. Can someone PLEASE tell me where this guy came from? He is toatlly bonkers! @Paul Wiliams... You are right on point! That Dave guy has to be nuts also.

    March 14, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  22. Gabriel

    Romney needs to practice using the correct words and terminologies in his conversations. I'm sure if he had said, reduce federal grants for PP he would not be perceived as bad as just out right saying I want to get rid of PP. You would think someone running for President for the last 10 years would by know know how to choose his words more carefully.
    As President using the wrong choice of words can have dire consequences. Imagined if President Romney says to China, I want to wipe you guys off the map... but what he really meant was to say I want to say is I want have better trade balances with you guys.
    Imagine President Romney saying

    March 14, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  23. Edwin

    What saddens me is the people who do not understand the educational system. Cutting funding for arts and humanities in the short term SEEMS like a financially wise move, because we can no longer afford things that aren't NECESSARY.

    But education generates income. Not just science education - arts and humanities education. If you cut the funding for teaching positions (which Romney advocates), you lower the overall educatonal ability of this country. Anybody who can do basic statistics can MEASURE the loss of revenue in this country, using simple projection analysis. The net effect is a monetary loss for the country - not a net gain.

    March 14, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    I dare ya, Mitt!

    March 14, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  25. edzepp

    Is this guy completely incapable of saying anything that isn't either blatantly false or totally insincere?

    March 14, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
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