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. LMC

    Romney and other Republican candidates just don't get it. The poor and even the middle class can't "just go wherever they want to go." If they could, they wouldn't be poor! Just because Romney and Santorum have large families doesn't mean the rest of us can't be more careful about population growth!

    March 20, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  2. Bob

    GOP – Hating womens' rights since...... time began.

    March 20, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  3. Lolo

    Have mercy, the GOP is out of it's mind. Please America read between the lines when they open their mounths. The GOP is not thinking about the middle class. Nobody gets more free stuff than the rich, but they are trying to convince us otherwise. Their party is nothing but vultures on steroids.

    March 20, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  4. Cindy D

    Romney's responses remind me of another famous out-of-touch elitist. The phrase "Let them eat cake!" comes to mind.

    March 20, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  5. whocares

    Typically republican from the dark ages, get these guys out of here. Vote for all the democrats.

    March 20, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  6. Irma in North Carolina

    I hope that Mitt gets beat real bad in the general electiion beings he thinks that he is going to win the primary. He also needs to loose their. He really thinks he has it won. He needs to be brougtht down on his knees.

    March 20, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  7. jim tom

    A lot of you people don't seem to understand what the word "free" means. When someone has an xray that's covered by their insurance, do you complain that they're getting a free xray? It's called health insurance. Also, despite what you might think, you are not paying for anyone else's health insurance. A disturbing number of people seem to think that their taxes are somehow paying Sandra Fluke's health insurance premium.

    March 20, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  8. willa

    Mitt Romney never actually says anything worth while. He spends a lot of time saying what the President thinks and feels. Romney says only he understands the economy, but the never ever really says what he would do. He is against Obamacare but offers nothing as a replacement. He stands for nothing and offers nothing.

    March 20, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  9. Senor Ed

    Mittens has stood firmly on each side of the contraception issue. He was for it before he against it while he was making a firm decision to be for it. But then it turned out he was really against it. He supported this issue wholeheartedly until he made a speech to an audience where his severely conservative principles required him to be against it.

    March 20, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  10. The Real Tom Paine

    Of course Romney views this in terms of economic freedom, because he has the money to purchase pretty much whatever he wants. Since the righties always view freedom in terms of economics, they will always tell the less-fortunate they are SOL and less virtuous, even that they are lazy ( Despite the fact the red states habitually take more federal dollars than they send). They will pay lip service to other ideas of freedom and liberty, but they will never actually allow you to practice them.

    March 20, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  11. fastrack

    They only tell us this is about control over reproductive rights. This is the proverbial foot in the door to get at controlling ALL medical decisions. How 'bout no Viagra for you until you submit a 15 minute video proving you can't achieve an erection without medical intervention? Then, you'll have to sign an affidavit stating that it will be used for procreation only. Oh, and the government gets turn-down rights over your choice of partner? No, wait, they already have that.

    March 20, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  12. Cindy

    Mr. Romney is so out of touch with middle and lower class americans. He has absolutely no idea how we live. IIt is easy to tell people what they should do when you don't have to worry about it. I believe that any individual who wants to run for President, congressman, senate, or govenor should have to live on minimum wages with no help from any friends or family for 1 year before running for office. Maybe then they would not be so quick to tell us how to live. His remarks on if you want free stuff then vote for the other side made me laugh. I am in a situation where I am forced to collect unemployment and as a result I do get food stamps. I have worked 40 years and have paid more than my share in taxes. So when Romney states" I am getting free stuff," it shows me he is out of touch with the plight of the average american. I will stick with President Obama.

    March 20, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  13. Melissa

    Wow... the party of free stuff getting upset because someone wants to stop their free stuff. Imagine that. I just can't fathom how the USA has gotten to the point where 70% of us get some kind of government assistance, and you want MORE! And I can't IMAGINE, as a WOMAN, crying and whining because the government won't give me birth control for free... ESPECIALLY since you can go to any FREE CLINIC and get it for FREE. PLEASE STOP WHINING! It's embarrassing to all women everywhere!

    March 20, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  14. The GOP opens mouth and inserts foot

    So the GOP is out to destroy Americans' rights, not just America.

    We're at a stage in our country's development where we have only ONE working political party, and it's the Democratic Party.

    March 20, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  15. ShawnDH

    Where did you right-wingers get the idea that YOU are paying for other people's PRIVATE HEALTH know, like the health insurance at Georgetown University? Rush Limbaugh must have told you that. Guess what...he's LYING and you are embarrassing yourselves with your total lack of knowledge and understanding of the issues. America's right-wingers are seriously the least informed, most easily manipulated people on Earth. Also, contraceptives are not even controversial. Grow up and mind your own business.

    March 20, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  16. Gary, Hunt Valley, Md.

    Corporate welfare provides more freebies on scale than any other arm of our broken capitalist society. Testify, Mitt!!!

    March 20, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  17. kravitz

    It's still interesting that allowing an unwanted birth is better than dealing with an abandoned baby at the curb, and trying to jail whoever did it. Or allowing a child to starve because the parents can't afford to feed it. Mitt and his republican pals still don't seem able to explain why birth control is worse than life management.

    March 20, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  18. Tr1Xen

    I certainly have no problem with Planned Parenthood or birth control. I'm pro-choice and socially liberal. Still, I believe that my money is MY MONEY and I don't want to have to pay for someone else's birth control, abortion, healthcare, or anything for that matter. You earn your keep and I'll earn mine. Thanks!

    March 20, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  19. sayer

    Planned Parenthood is part of the safety net you said you want to fix if it needs to be fixed, Mr. Romney.

    March 20, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  20. Doug in NYC

    So a couple of months ago he said he didn't worru about the poor in this country they have a safety net. Now he wants to take away funding from that safety net. Can't he keep his lies straight? Or does he have a concussion from all his flip flopping?

    March 20, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  21. Tr1Xen

    I certainly have no problem with Planned Parenthood or birth control. I'm pro-choice and socially lіbеrаl. Still, I believe that my money is MY MONEY and I don't want to have to pay for someone else's birth control, аbоrtіоn, healthcare, or anything for that matter. You earn your keep and I'll earn mine. Thanks!

    March 20, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  22. Doug in NYC

    Opps worry.

    March 20, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  23. Stephen

    There is not a woman in america who wants access to birth control that cannot get that access. Democrats are trying to deflect the discussion away from the pityful Obama economy. Well, I think democrats have misread the american people. I think the American people are much more concerned about the economy than they are about birth control which is not a problem. I would think the democrats would have enough integrity to engage in the discussion about how to fix the economy instead of trying to deflect the emphasis to something that isn't a concern of most americans. "Free" contraception is harldy an issue when condoms are only 85 cents at walmart and are handed out free in most middle schools.

    March 20, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  24. SBle

    Money can buy you a GOP nomination, but not brains or common sense.

    March 20, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  25. Allyse

    Free doesnt mean free. It means we'll be paying for it. Romney is right....stop trying to freeload and get a job

    March 20, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
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