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

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

    Planned Parenthood does not do abortions!! Saying that they do is the biggest lie out there.

    March 14, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  2. Nancy, CA

    Isn't it the Republican party that constantly claims they want less government intrusion in our lives? I guess it's a different story when it comes to moral beliefs!!!!!

    March 14, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  3. TheMagusNYC

    Just when we were beginning to see the merits in such broad experience–venture captialist, governor, missionary–Romney goes off like a loose cannon, promising to defund whatever offends his handpicked audience.! Such erratic behavior has no place in the Oval Office. And the power he presumes seems to be based on the oligarchy under which he served as missionary.

    March 14, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. Michelle

    Pure Pandering. These cuts would do nothing for the budget, they're a drop in the hat. The most it would do is ruin arts and humanities programs and aversley affect women's health, putting a heavier burden on women with less money.

    I am SO upset with the way the news is going right now. As a theatre artist and a woman, I am beginning to truly believe that if a repub. candidate wins, my life will be negatively affected.


    March 14, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  5. Travis

    The National Endowments for the Arts, as well as Humanities, are just that- endowments. You can stop adding to the principal, fine, but you can't get rid of them because they are restricted investment funds, the interest from which goes to the arts. It is illegal to sell of NEA and NEH assets.

    March 14, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  6. Squigman

    When it comes to lies, you can not beat a republican. It seems they are born to lie, live to lie, and more than likely they die with lies on their lips. If people go to hell for lieing, then hell must be filled to the brim with lieing republicans.

    March 14, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  7. Cynthia

    Whoops...looks like the money I usually donate to Paralyzed Veterans, MDA & St Jude's Hospital will have to be rerouted if this happens. I don't get huge tax breaks and have to watch my budget. Sorry, folks.

    March 14, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  8. Jay Shapiro

    Go for it Mittens. Every time you open your mouth another hundred thousand or so undecided voters become Obama voters. The Democrats should actually schedule press conferences for Mittens.

    March 14, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  9. LMEBlog

    You know what is sad about this... Mitt Romney does NOT want to get rid of planned parenthood. He wants to stop the government funding of it. This IS a good thing. The government spends $122,000 per SECOND. That's 3x more than the Average American makes in one year. We have to cut all we can; we cannot sustain this level of spending.

    Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the FEDERAL government should pay for every little thing in the world, spending 3x the national American income per second to do so.

    March 14, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. SoSad

    Romney, maybe, the Morman Church can provide funding? What an out of step A-HOLE! I cannot believe mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, don't unite to stop this insane bashing against woman? Why do you let MEN dictate to YOU?

    March 14, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  11. hypatia

    Mittens, your Freudian slip is showing. That's EXACTLY what he meant. And the fact that the POTUS cannot 'get rid' of a private entity doesn't even enter into the equation: he'd use his business to do the dirty work while forcing the funding issue in Washington. There's some nice future corruption for you!

    March 14, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  12. hypatia

    Freudian slip, Mtt?

    March 14, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  13. Ash

    I can not understand why anyone would vote for someone who would take away the one place women can go to get affordable birth control and cancer screenings. Not all of us are rich with amazing insurance like congressmen recieve. Good luck with that one Repubs, because you would be eliminating the one place women and men alike can recieve protection, so enjoy the nice population boom from the poor. You want to get rid of us but instead you will just make us grow even more, and eventually take you all out. 😀

    March 14, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  14. Fair Taxes

    Any connection between what the GOP candidates say and reality is purely coincidental.

    March 14, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  15. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Remember, he is still trying to sound Conservative enough to win the Nomination before May.

    March 14, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  16. JeanneLH

    They have footage of Mitt Romney giving a $150 from his wife as a donation to Planned Parenthood. ($150 is probably like giving a quarter of a dollar to the Romney's....granted)
    This man is OBSESSED with buying the Presidency. It must be another feather in his cap or something, but he is jumping through hoops for the conservatives and he has sold his soul in the process. When you lose your word, when it means nothing to lie, you have lost your soul.

    March 14, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  17. GOP Hate America

    more men making choices for women. the sad truth is there are women out there that still will vote for these clowns.

    March 14, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  18. Linda

    Just because this guy believes that the more children you have the more you rescue tortured spirits and the fact that he can afford five kids easily although one has to wonder how he's raised them since we know what he did to his poor beautiful Irish setter, doesn't mean that the rest of the women in the nation should not have access to health care and yes, even contraceptives and to make their own choices for their own lives, health and families. You will never win anyway Mittens, so I am not going to worry too much about your pandering and flip flops – I just hope you've been banned from owning any more pets!

    March 14, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  19. Greg

    How about cutting subsidies to big oil and large corporations? Naw we can borrow forever to give them freebies right Mittster!?

    March 14, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  20. Woman In California

    What does it matter what Willard said-he'll never be president so who cares.

    March 14, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  21. Daniel

    Read his statement in context. He is clearly talking about balancing the budget and knows the only thing he can "get rid of" is federal funding of programs. I look forward to having a president that will make hard decisions to balance our budget.

    March 14, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  22. Russ

    And why do so many low income people support Republicans? It doesn't matter anyway, because as Obama found out, you can say you'd do this and that, but in reality you can't because of all the fighting in Congress. So nothing gets done. Good luck keeping those promises Mittens, if you even get elected.

    March 14, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  23. Rudy NYC

    " get rid of that. The subsidy for Amtrak, I would eliminate that. ...."
    Get rid of the subsidy for Amtrack, but keep the subsidies for the big oil companies who had a record year in profits in 2011, and are on pace to break those records in 2012.

    Get rid of or reduce the amount of funding used for maintenance work done on our nation's railways [ which is also how we move most of our freight ] in favor of increasing the already record profit margins at the big oil companies.

    March 14, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  24. Linda

    Would he curtail huge tax breaks to oil companies while they are making the biggest profits in history?
    Would he curtail his desire to go to war?
    Would he curtail money hiding, like what he does, to avoid paying income tax
    Would he get rid of health insurance and cushy retirements for Congress and himself like he wants to do for Americans?
    What an idiot. He will do nothing but continue to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. I love a comment from a reporter the other night – Romney acts like he is on safari in his own country – he is so out of touch with regular folks he thinks we are the primitives and he is the great white God.

    March 14, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  25. CAL USA

    You have to question Romney's vaunted business and financial expertise. A real business guy would look at the budget line items that drive most of the expenditures and not nibble at the fringes. Funding for the arts, NPR and Planned Parenthood wouldn't constitute a rounding error in the Federal budget. Why wouldn;t he go after the bloated Defense budget, subsidies to the Oil Industry and corn farmers? Oh, yeah, it has nothing to do with the budget. It's all about pandering to the extremists who have taken over the Republican party.

    March 14, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
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