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. JasonP

    the more of Romney I hear, the more I cannot stand the sight of him.

    March 20, 2012 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  2. Errm

    I wonder if his wife realizes he hates women. Oh, what am I talking about...I'm sure she's a self-loathing sort.

    March 20, 2012 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  3. whitmanguy

    Wow, floundering even as he flip flops. Wait until he has to face off with Obama!

    March 20, 2012 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  4. Guess What

    someone got Konnies and slapped the obamas where they needed to be slapped, tell the free loaders to GET A JOB

    March 20, 2012 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  5. JPX

    Why are republicans in the dark ages when it comes to social issues? It's scary.

    March 20, 2012 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  6. Core republican Values

    "Treat women like servants." Another Core republican Value.

    March 20, 2012 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  7. Jimm

    “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.”


    Really? They can go anywhere??? I did not realize thatt there were clinics for poor women on every corner.

    March 20, 2012 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  8. Bev

    i agree completley romney 2012

    March 20, 2012 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  9. David McFarland

    But we should give welfare to corporations from out tax monies.

    March 20, 2012 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  10. SlowGun

    Romney is right.
    We should stop funding Planned Parenthood where millions of women go for medical treatments, and keep providing subsities for oil companies...I mean we are a Christain nation...right?

    March 20, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  11. guslvnv

    Wow. This is such an important subject to grill him on. Really stupid!! How about how he would handle the job as Prez of the U.S. instead.

    March 20, 2012 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  12. GonzoinHouston

    To the current GOP, freedom means freedom for their churches or corporations to do pretty much anything they want, including take over the government. And if they want to use government authority to force their dominion over individuals, well, that's just an exercise in freedom.

    March 20, 2012 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  13. 40 acres

    IMO, those were scripted questions. So were the answers.

    March 20, 2012 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  14. kkat

    When will these leeches realize that "free stuff" is paid for by those who work? Now having insurance plans that we pay for COVER birth control is a totally different thing......

    March 20, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  15. Wake up people

    That's right Mittens, alienate the females. This guy is such an idiot. Planned Parenthood is a good program and many women utilize it. I can't wait until November!

    OBAMA 2012!

    March 20, 2012 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  16. DaveC

    " 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.”

    Fine, Mitt.Lets stop the free lunch for small businesses propping up the ones who can't make it on their own without federal help. Let's stop the federal subsidies for farmers who treat their farming like a hobby rather than a business. Let's stop the subsidies for the oil industry (god knows why they need it). I personally am tired of subsidizing every darn thing on the face of the earth. My taxes should go to things that matter. Keeping air and water clean, planes in the air, highways maintained, people helped who need help, etc. Not handouts to idiots who don't need it and use it for their own greed.

    March 20, 2012 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  17. Anonymous

    Romney is so 1% he just doesn't get it! Not free birth control but paid through your Insurance YES!

    March 20, 2012 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  18. Stephen

    GOP wives practice contraception by just saying NO. That's why their husbands aren't nice people.

    March 20, 2012 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  19. Jim

    As usual, penny wise and pound foolish. Let's cut the preventative care so we can all pay a lot more when they end up in the emergency room with preventable illnesses. Sorry Mitt but the public pays either way and the Planned Parenthood option is a lot cheaper. Now, if you want to advocate the position that hospitals can turn away anyone that can't pay regardless of how sick they are, such as dying, then your position would make sense economically. If that's the case have the guts to say so.

    March 20, 2012 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  20. American

    Contrary to Romney's constant lies and flip-flopping, Mitt admitted to supporting an intrusive personhood amendment that would outlaw many contraceptives for women.

    These undeserving attacks from GOP politicians against American women's health is going to have repercussions in November. Cannot wait to vote.

    March 20, 2012 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  21. vatoloke

    The women of the country alone, should be able to re-elect President Obama. What have the women of America done to the GObP to bring its wrath upon them?

    March 20, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  22. AmericanSam

    His position is fair enough. He has the right to think the way he does, and I have the right to think society should do more to provide services to its people. If the top 1% did not control more wealth than the bottom 90% of us combined, then we might be able to do something about it. The amount of money they own is grotesque, and anyone who claims that they worked for it I'm going to take issue with. How could anyone really claim that someone could rightfully earn billions? Are rich people working 1000 times harder than the rest of us? Absolutely not. The system is flawed. Money is supposed to represent hard work. Instead, it represents how well one has manipulated the system to spit out dollar bills at them.

    March 20, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  23. Maff

    Gotta give it to mittens on this one. He stood his ground. I wish i could'vs been there. Women should'nt let the media brainwash them into thinking Free BC is some american right. PP is coo. It could be run better, but the natural intent, I support. Who wouldnt? But it should be something that the public funds...through charity. If the Government funds it, that actually means that we the people fund it through our tax dollars. Of course you know there are thing within PP operation that alot of people dont agree with, so why should they have to fund it with their taxes?
    Of course there might be better place to start this kind of reform, and If i was running for office I'd be smarter than starting there, but we need our government to spend our tax dollars wisely. Then we would have more money in our pockets to willingly give to our community through charity, and support the issues we believe in. Its time to shift social responsibility back to the people. less taxes, more responsibility for our fellow man! believe in yourselves, we can do it.

    March 20, 2012 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  24. Al-NY,NY

    Uh-oh. An open question from someone not prescreened and implanted with a GOP mind-control chip. Keep up the good work Mittens. PP is not only about abortions although you and your Goebbels-like propaganda machine want everyone to think it is. Keep this up and more and more women will say "buh-bye"

    March 20, 2012 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  25. WiredweirdinSF

    Did you hear the "question." Some dope addict wants "free" birth control. Obamas people they think it is "free" since they cannot get jobs because they can't pass a drug test and don't pay taxes, they think all the stuff Obama gives them is "free."

    March 20, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
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