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. marjee123

    Love the republican war on women. The women have said they are not going to take it any more and are not going to vote for any GOP candidate. And they also know that since they have been so so vocal against birth control and all the other women issues, if the suddenly changed their mind they wouldn't believe a darn word they said.

    March 20, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  2. wolfpackbob

    Was the quote from the 1992 or 1996 campaign? "It's about the economy, stupid!" It is still true today. But you won't hear it from the President, or more importantly from the media.

    March 20, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  3. Jay

    He doesn't mind the Government funding Big Oil, but no to women's health.

    March 20, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    The idea of the federal government funding Planned Parenthood I’m going to say no, we’re going to stop that.”
    He makles it sound as if the feds were FULLY funding PP,which of course they are not. He's also allowing the misitaken pervasive impression that all PP does is give out contraceptives and, perform abortions, which is a miniscule fraction of the well-woman services they provide. Romney saying that he doesn't care where you go to get these services is like saying "Let them eat cake".

    March 20, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  5. out of step

    Well Mitt, I don't think the federal government should be giving money to religious organzations (colleges) either, but I bet you will not protect my tax money from going to radical thinking/ religious schools... will ya Mitt?

    March 20, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  6. davec.0121

    “Well they can go wherever they’d like to go,” Romney told her. Typical Romney comment. He missed the point, which is, they can go where they can afford to go, which in many cases is no where. Comments like that and Santorum's comment on unemployment show how either completely out of touch or how completely callous they are. Apparently neither has read the part in the Bible about taking care of the poor.

    March 20, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  7. Karen

    Sure you can go anywhere you like if you have the money! Only a a very rich person whose had everything handed to him could possibly come up w/homemade such a shallow response. I'm not asking for free contraception but for it to be subsidized through taxes that we all pay. I would include condoms. Everyone benefits when women and men are provided to tools and the accurate info to carry out family planning and preventative healthcare.

    March 20, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  8. jb1963

    I wonder why a woman would vote for him now. Unless you are just a 16th century kind of person why would you want anyone from the republican party.
    Republicans wants as many kids as possible in America. They want them poor and uneducated so they can grow up to be a soldier and die to keep the rich free.

    March 20, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  9. angryoldguy

    Why does the party of getting government out of our lives want to intrude on the most intimate parts of our lives? they don't want to dictate how business should behave, instead they want to tell us how we should behave in the bedroom! If they want to get the government out of our lives, then they should get out of our private lives as well! Don't try to mind my morals for me! Contraception is the business of the individual, not the governments, especially the question of whether or not someone should or should not use contraception. It's none of their business! Wise up Willard!

    March 20, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    I do,however, appreciate FINALLY getting a solid, non-flip-flopping answer from MIttens. As such I will reward his suggestion that we "vote for the other guy" by in fact voting for the other guy who actually gets IT and gets US.
    Obama 2012. Seriously America.

    March 20, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  11. GonzoinHouston

    Never mind reproductive health care for women, I'm starting to think what we really need is mental health care for conservatives! Clearly, these guys are out of touch with reality, and I don't mean the birther/creationist fringe. I'm talking about mainstream republican doctrine:
    -The way to fix the economy is to do more of what wrecked it in the first place
    -Tax cuts for the rich reduce unemployment
    -restricting access to contraception and abortion will reduce unwanted pregnancy
    -America has enough oil for energy independence and cheap gas if only the government would let the oil companies drill for it.
    Each of these has been proven, repeatedly, to be as much a lie as "Saddam's gonna get a nuke and give it to Osama bin Laden", but still they hold them as Gospel. I cannot explain this behavior in rational terms.

    March 20, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    This is how Republicans reward the people of the hard working middle class. Conservatives continue to claim to hold freedom above all else, yet continue to pass legislation that restricts your personal freedom. I think Republicans view the middle class as a cash cow.

    March 20, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  13. J.Crobuzon

    You know, there really is no political party or movement wanting the government to give everyone free stuff, no matter how frantically these clowns pretend there is. Either that lady was just pulling Mitt's chain, or she was an actor on his payroll.

    March 20, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  14. Mom3 to

    Why in the world is the GOP making birth control a huge issue? Oh yeah, because they have NOTHING to offer as far as jobs, the economy, or helping the middle class. They know most people are not for the GOP policies of tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy, getting rid of Social Security, getting rid of Medicare, getting rid of unions so middle-class American's income can fall even more, etc. So, they are trying to distract with these stupid social issues that make no sense in 2012 America. It is only making me want to vote a straight Democratic ticket even more. OBAMA 2012

    March 20, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  15. FLIndependent

    As an Independent, I used to think Romney had some smarts about him, but now I know that isn't the case. This guy has sold himself to the far right just like McCain ended up selling out to the Tea Party (Palin crowd),. I can't stand to listen to any of these Repub candidates as they are SO out of touch with the average American. Romney is a total flip-flopper panderer and if he thinks he's so great on how to run the economy then with all his money why not help out now? Why does he have to become president to help? He can start up many businesses to employ people, so why doesn't he??

    March 20, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  16. Rsprings

    Democrat shills want to continue the Women's rights surprise

    March 20, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  17. scarpe

    Wow, Romney. Are you sure you want to use the birth control debate to prove that u have convictions? Seems really stupid and short sighted. Even if I might have entertained the possibility of voting for you, you've just demonstrated that you don't have what it takes to lead a nation.

    March 20, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  18. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    Romney inherited a few million. Then he and his millionaire cronies parlayed that into some real money and he decided that he could really help his buddies by going into politics. That way he could reach out to the middle class (Republican version). Those folks who are only worth a million or two dollars. As for anyone under that, well there are food stamps and homeless shelters.

    March 20, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  19. ALPHA

    Clearly these two chicks were plants from the Libs.

    They are trying anything, a n y t h i n g to deflect attention from this sad sack President and his disasterous 3 & 1/2 year record !

    March 20, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  20. Angelia

    Who cares about birth control...if that was the only issue our country had then fine. Let us ask those questions that effect us all as a country and were we are headed. I have heard all the crap now for years, I am going to do this, we will do that, blah blah blah. GET ME THE FACTS then write about that.

    March 20, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  21. Brent Durland

    I come from a conservative background and I have nothing against contraceptives, but I don't understand why people think they should get them for free.

    March 20, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  22. justwondering

    I just want to know where the women are supposed to go that use the other services of planned parenthood are supposed to go, if like Mitt says "they can go wherever they'd like to go" if we do not have health care for them since most of the women that use Planned Parenthood's services do not have health care or do not have enough health care for their health needs.

    March 20, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  23. Anonymous010

    “Well they can go wherever they’d like to go,” Romney told her.

    No they can't, at least, not if it's up to you. They'd like to go to Planned Parenthood. You'd like to deny them that.

    March 20, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  24. Primewonk

    Guslvnv wrote, " 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."

    Perhaps if these fundiot candidates would stop advocating the denigration of women and the trampling of the consti.tution, they wouldn't get questions like this?

    March 20, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  25. Malory Archer

    I'm not looking for free ANYTHING. However, as the parent of two young adult daughters there isn't a single clown in the GObP car that I would vote for.

    March 20, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
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