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. Donaldbain

    I cannot for the life of me understand how birth control is an issue in a 21st century presidential campaign. There are far more important issues that need to be dealt with at the executive level. What is really unbelievable is the influence of church groups on the candidates. Are people really this frightened and ignorant to think contraception is a key issue? Any candidate that goes down this road should be left there by themselves because they are too narrow-minded and frankly stupid to be president of the USA.

    March 20, 2012 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  2. Jason in Hawaii

    Good for Romney. I find nothing wrong with the idea that he is against free handouts, particularly when our country can't afford it. If you want "free"... go live in one of the socialist scandinavian countries. There is no such thing as "free".... somebody ALWAYS has to pay. I want free = I want YOU to pay.

    March 20, 2012 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  3. Logic n LA

    Why is this an issue? if birth control is legal and only sold as a prescription, then it should be covered under healthcare plans- no matter who is paying for the plan. For a bunch of people that say the government should stay out of our lives, they sure have a lot of opinions on how they should be lived!

    March 20, 2012 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  4. John

    Well, finally he's not pandering. An idiot, but finally consistent for once.

    He could learn from Ben Franklin's 'Poor Richard's Almanac.' Like, 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.' Birth control PREVENTS unwanted pregnancies and abortions, and the GOP are ALL idiots now.

    March 20, 2012 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  5. Dieter Zerressen

    But we can tax people to fund unnecessary wars, we can tax people to fund tax breaks for oil companies, we can tax people at a higher rate than I'm paying and we can tax people to fund the zero taxes that GE and other giant international companies manage to dodge. Where's my freedom in that?

    March 20, 2012 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  6. Darrell

    As a tax payer, Mr. Romney, I don't like my tax breaks going to large US Oil companies that are making record profits while gas prices are sky rocketing. The GOP want to take away from women's ability to control their birth control decisions and help with basic health care, but you guys will not stand up to large corporations that rip this country off year after year.

    And you are right Mitt, I am going to vote for the other guy: President Obama. Obama-Biden 2012

    March 20, 2012 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  7. craig

    Just remember, a few days Mitt actually spoke the truth, even if it was unintentional. His words: "I'm not worried about the poor."

    March 20, 2012 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  8. thomas

    Five sons , none of whom volunteered for military service in time of war.

    Mitt Romney was a veteran on wall street.

    March 20, 2012 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  9. Orwell proven

    Those students are lucky they were asking a corporation these questions. Santorum would have have sent them to his madrassa and not have spared the rod.

    March 20, 2012 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  10. BeverlyNC

    Romney has a problem on all issues because he is incapable of telling the truth about anything. Whatever Santorum says Romney says "me too" followed by the lies because he has never believed anything Santorum believes. Romney also tell constant lies about President Obama with the same worn out line of "his policies have failed". Really? Which ones? President Obama has a very long list of accomplishments for the country and the People. Republicans are desperate, self-destructing, and Romney is no leader and totally untrustable. He has no principles and never has.

    March 20, 2012 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  11. John in Cal

    I am so not ever going to vote for this poor excuse of a would be wannabe. He is all over the place on his comments, but now he is trying to make it sound as though he is centered on being the toughest kid on the block. he has no real grasp of true life in America, or how to run a country(except into the ground). But I do have to admit that he is becoming the expert on lying. In fact he should get a PHD for that. No he is not the right sort of person we want in the WH. Just not the brains for it. He reminds me of a square pat of jello that you chase around your plate trying to pin it down and then when you finally get it in your mouth it just melts away to nothing.

    March 20, 2012 04:27 am at 4:27 am |
  12. Vin

    Thanks Mitt....we WILL vote for the other guy. We don't live in Lala Land where everyone can afford the basic needs. So yes, we want birthcontrol to be covered by our health insurance policies, and we want Planned Parenthood to be there for those who otherwise couldn't afford to go see a doctor. I'm so sorry that the economy is now recovering just three years after this nation, this world was on the brink of utter financial collapse. So it took Obama three years to fix it after stearing the nation out of another depression. The last time that happened, at three years we were in the darkest and deepest part of it and it took a world war that we werent first part of a decade later to bail us out of it. Clearly, things could have been worse. And I don't see how we can count on you, Rick, Newt or Ron to keeps us out of trouble. After all, you haven't really told us what you would do to ensure the economy keeps've been telling us how a fictional president did it so fictionally wrong. You're running for president of Lalaland, and this is America Jack.

    March 20, 2012 04:50 am at 4:50 am |
  13. Marry

    The GOP/TP/Candidates are just unbelievable!!! We are not talking about free birth-control we are talking about insurance not being allowed to drop that medication out of their covering because it is used for woman’s health! But leave it to Mitt to be for Corporations to make even more profit because I have not heard him talk about the possibility that when they exclude that medication they would also have to drop the cost of insurance a little.
    Free stuff – now if anyone is talking about "free stuff" meaning getting something without paying for it, it is the GOP and the 1% taking more than a fair share and ripping of the country!

    March 20, 2012 05:08 am at 5:08 am |
  14. Marry

    Looks like Mitt is taking lessons from Ricky insulting a great part of the population/voters. Wonder how many women like Mitts idea that they are just after “free stuff” when taking care of their health? The audience did not seem to agree with Mitt that much!

    March 20, 2012 05:14 am at 5:14 am |
  15. Maggie

    Nor should he. Republicans talk about Obama and mandates and limitations on freedom while they go from state to state limiting the rights of women and our freedom to choose our own healthcare and family planning needs. From contraception restrictions to mandated medical procedures that are only politically necessary, republicans have lost this point.

    March 20, 2012 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  16. Bryan, Princeton, WV

    When asked how low-income women could afford vital healthcare any other way, Romney added, "I guess I don't understand the question. This is a free society. Women have the freedom to do what they want, have they tried getting these prescriptions on Mars?, just so long as it meets with my approval. No, no, no, you listen. I don't understand the fuss, really. I've never had to receive handouts from anybody, except my Dad, so. I guess? I just don't understand where you're coming from, and I'll never lose an election because I don't care about people who need free stuff in order to survive."

    March 20, 2012 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  17. Chief Media Urologist

    While I am no supporter of Mitt Romney, I have to admit that the call for "free contraceptives" was grossly misguided. That being said, Romney's desire to cut funding to PP while stoking the war fires in Syria and Iran tells us all we need to know about this candidate. Same old GOP. Cut spending on Americans and reallocate it to the Military Complex. Thanks but no thanks.

    March 20, 2012 05:50 am at 5:50 am |
  18. TaxPayer

    Good for Romney!!!. I am sick to death of paying for other people's free "stuff" through my taxes. That includes free birth control and planned parenthood. Get them off welfare and that could pay for their own "stuff".

    March 20, 2012 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  19. Glenn from Cary

    Apparently, Romney cares as much for women citizens as he does for his family dog – no free rides (at least, inside the car).

    March 20, 2012 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  20. Namejkane fl live from teapublican moon base no taxes, no regulation no health care, free gas.

    Vote for the republican stone age morons if your an idot , I want to be part of the Dem landslide in Nov. Who wants to go back to the horse and buggy days with the republican freak show.

    March 20, 2012 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  21. GreenieInPA

    But I guess it's okay for the government to fund churches, which is essentially what they do by giving them tax-free status. Obama doesn't even need to campaign; no one but middle-aged, white males will vote for these clowns.

    March 20, 2012 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  22. Marie MD

    Free stuff??? You are becoming the new imbecilic moron from UT now. It's not free but what would you know about working and getting a paycheck for a living. I pay for MY insurance in MY paycheck every two weeks.
    So you are against, now, birth control but I wonder do you use the little blue pill? None of you will ever get near the WH when in the year 2012 you are against women having a voice about their reproductive rights never mind health care!

    March 20, 2012 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  23. Tom

    According to Mitt poor women do not count.

    March 20, 2012 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
  24. DrJStrangepork

    His take was wrong. Nothing is free. He would do better to put out a message that independents can get behind. It should have been, "Nothing is free. The money must come from somewhere. Do you feel it appropriate to tell the person next to you that they must pay for your way?" That makes it a person to person issue. She would likely have backed off.

    March 20, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  25. Rick Douglas

    Our younger generation seems to not understand that "free" isn't really free. Someone has to pay for it. If it's supplied by the government, that simply means tax dollars. If it's included in health insurance, that simply means that someone is paying a higher premium.

    March 20, 2012 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
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