March 19th, 2012
08:23 PM ET
10 years ago

Romney can't escape birth control questions in Illinois

Peoria, Illinois (CNN) - Mitt Romney tried to make his final day before Tuesday’s Illinois primary all about the economy, but in the end he couldn’t escape the distracting questions about birth control that have seeped into the Republican presidential discussion for weeks on end.

Romney faced two questions about contraception as he wrapped up his last event Monday, a sun-splashed outdoor town hall on the campus of Bradley University in Peoria.

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After Romney riffed for about 20 minutes on President Barack Obama’s management of the economy, he solicited questions from the large student-heavy audience.

As the first questioner made apparent, these voters were not pre-screened.

“So you’re all for like, yay, freedom, and all this stuff,” said the first woman to approach a microphone. “And yay, like pursuit of happiness. You know what would make me happy? Free birth control.”

Her remark drew a mix of applause and boos from the crowd, and a rebuke from the Republican frontrunner.

“You know, let me tell you, no no, look, look let me tell you something,” he said, waiting for the crowd noise died down. “If you’re looking for free stuff you don’t have to pay for? Vote for the other guy, that’s what he’s all about, okay? That’s not, that’s not what I’m about.”

That exchange was followed by another question about Romney’s plan to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

A female audience member asked Romney where he might suggest “millions of women go” without Planned Parenthood offering reproductive and sexual health care.

“Well they can go wherever they’d like to go,” Romney told her. “This is a free society. But here’s what I’d say, which is the federal government should not tax these people to pay for Planned Parenthood … The idea of the federal government funding Planned Parenthood I’m going to say no, we’re going to stop that.”

Also see:

Santorum hits back at 'economic lightweight' charge

Republicans ramp up efforts to slam Obama health law

Poll: Romney lead widens in Illinois

Filed under: 2012 • Illinois • Mitt Romney
soundoff (218 Responses)
  1. chrisnot

    We are going to continue the cultural and biblical subjugation of women no matter what. They have no place.., they have no right to make decisions about their own health, their reproductive health. Only MEN can do taht.

    March 19, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  2. Laverne

    Women in their rigth mind won't forget about the insensitive, pandering remarks this creep is saying while campaigning and they will reward him with a vote for OBAMA!

    March 19, 2012 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  3. Ramesh Shrestha

    He can't avoide that question anywhere, even in Utah.

    March 19, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  4. informed voter

    It's clear the republican's agenda includes denying woman in need the health care that everyone should have access to. It's clear they would attack the gains made by women, gays, minorities, poor, unemployed. How could any caring, sane individual vote for such weak candidates who would return our country to the days of the robber barons and corporate polluters? I pray our citizens are wise enough to give President Obama another four years to continue our march towards recovery and sanity.

    March 19, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  5. jardine

    Wonderful reply by Romney. All of those who want free Obama money and free birth control and free stuff, they can vote for Obama. I can't believe how stupid some of these students are.........UNBELIEVABLE!!! Who do they think is paying for all of the free Obama stuff? Martians!

    March 19, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  6. GI Joe.

    Is that the Only pair of jeans that man owns? the same fading along the same lines in picture after picture.

    March 19, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  7. rs

    No GOPper should escape these question. This is the craziest activity I have ever seen. The GOP has last its mind.

    March 19, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  8. PJ/TX

    Are we being taxed to pay for viagra and vasectomies? Aren't vasectomies a form of "birth control"? If inmates
    are being given viagra, as I have read, then we are paying for it.
    When are these "good ol' boys" going to have to sacrifice their self-esteem (which they already have by these
    inane laws some States are promoting), their right to privacy, their "freedom from government intervention".
    Where is their sense of decency and compassion?
    When are they going to live up to the puritan way of life that they expect from others?
    They can't. I think women should have their own theme song:
    "I Am Woman Hear Me Roar".
    And roar they will on November 6.
    Thanks to all of the decent men who understand, support and love the woman in their lives, for putting them
    first, and male testosterone second.

    March 19, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  9. Dallas

    Go Mitt!!!

    March 19, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  10. Satberry

    Willard you will never be president,because you are weak.Your tax plan is corporate welfare.How dare you pathological liar.It's not a problem giving away free stuff , when it's to your rich friends.

    March 19, 2012 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  11. Ana

    Well my fellow choice has been made clear on whom to vote for!

    March 19, 2012 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  12. chuck weidemann

    Where should the hungry go Mitt? How about the sick? The tired? The huddled masses? The poor? It's a free country right? They can go wherever they want to..... Not your problems right Mitt? Now there's a leader of all the people...... Maybe we should take down the statue of liberty...out dated for the "I got mine crowd screw the lazy bums who want what I got." Funny how values fade away when money becomes the most powerful value. Give to Ceaser what is Ceaser's Mitt!!!

    March 19, 2012 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  13. Don Beal

    I just watched Up in the Air with George Clooney as a specialist in firing people. Why did Mitt Romney come to mind?

    March 19, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  14. Another Day in the Idiot Mines

    Rmoney also added "however, government funding for vampire capitalists, banksters and the war machine is just fine and dandy!"

    March 19, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  15. FedUpwithLA

    It would be something silly and unanswerable as a question like this to derail his campaign . . .

    March 19, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  16. Andrew Schwartz

    Yeah! What's up with that, Mitt?!? I'm for a free vasectomy, a free car, a free house, free food, free health care, and free everything!! You must HATE people!

    March 19, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  17. Joe_PolitcalSpectacle

    Romney supports insurance coverage for Viagra for his fellow rich white male and as far as his concern, all women can go to hell. He doesn't care about the poor and he likes to fire people. I hope there is enough rich white male to give him the white house...

    March 19, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  18. Pat

    Romney's reply on Planned Parenthood takes the mask off of his efforts to be an "ordinary guy" like you and me. Where should millions of women go without Planned Parenthood? "Well, they should go wherever they want to go. This is a free society." Well, Mr. Ordinary, they can't go wherever they want to go because they couldn't afford that. That is what Planned Parenthood is all about. If you are just like us, you should know that. Secondly, you call it a free society when women are dictated to by men, are not allowed to make their own choices, and where laws can be past that invade a women's privacy? I don't call that a free society. I call that Iran.

    March 19, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  19. Edwin

    “Well they can go wherever they’d like to go,” Romney told her. “This is a free society" - except for Planned Parenthood, which is forbidden.

    Free society means freedom of choices, not restricting choices because the president doesn't happen to approve of one particular choice.

    March 19, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  20. cali girl

    Another reason to not vote for this pig. Robmey is going to regret those statements. Women will not soon forget. Thank you to those women in Illinois who stood up for women everywhere.

    March 19, 2012 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  21. The GOP opens mouth and inserts foot

    Look, it's simple. Don't have the insurance companies cover viagra or cialis or pay for alcoholic or drug rehab.

    March 19, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  22. Jon

    Liberals continue to use fake non-issues like birth control in an attempt to keep the discussion of real issues like Obamas failed economic policies to a minimum

    March 19, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  23. Mary

    Seems to me these questions WERE pre-screened at best and probably planted. Liberals are not asking for handouts, but conservatives are trying to give the impression they are.

    March 19, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  24. john

    this guy steals and many companies??...and he talks about not getting "free stuff"...what a joke!!!

    March 19, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    I was there. The girl who asked the first question was obviously emotional and kinda rude, and pretty much everyone in the audience booed her.

    March 19, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
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