October 11th, 2012
09:54 AM ET
8 years ago

Priebus defends Romney over abortion comments

(CNN) - The Republican National Committee chairman took to Mitt Romney's defense Thursday, saying the GOP presidential nominee has been unwavering on his position about abortion this cycle.

"I see the flap over this Des Moines Register question. But… there's nothing there there," Reince Priebus said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien."

Tune to CNN for Thursday's vice presidential debate coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET on CNN TV, CNN.com and via CNN's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Web users can become video editors with a new clip-and-share feature that allows them to share favorite debate moments on Facebook and Twitter.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

Democrats argued Romney was being contradictory when he said in an interview Tuesday with the Des Moines Register that "there's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda."

Romney's response came after being asked by the newspaper's editorial board if he "intends to pursue any legislation specifically regarding abortion."

Later in the same interview he said he would reinstate by executive order the Mexico City policy that blocks the use of U.S. foreign aid dollars to carry out abortion in other countries.

And during the primary campaign, Romney maintained he would support efforts to remove funding for Planned Parenthood, a women's health clinic that provides abortion services. Several House Republicans have introduced legislation that would strip funding from the group.

On Wednesday, Romney reiterated his pledge, saying he supported removing the group's funding through the federal budget, which must be passed by Congress.

"I think I've said time and time again that I'm a pro-life candidate and I'll be a pro-life president," he said. "The actions I'll take immediately is to remove funding for Planned Parenthood. It will not be part of my budget."

Priebus on Thursday pointed to Romney's former statements and said nothing has changed in the Republican nominee's position on abortion.

"The fact of the matter is is that Mitt Romney has been absolutely, 100% consistent on this issue, that he's pro-life," Priebus said.

As for why Romney said he was not aware of specific legislation he would pursue as president, Priebus said Romney was talking about current bills in Congress.

"What he's referring to is whether or not there were piles of legislation in the Congress, what specific bills in the Congress in regards to abortion, are you going to be pushing over the next four years," he said.

O'Brien, however, pressed back, saying the question in the Des Moines Register editorial board did not mention current Congressional bills.

In response, Priebus said, "I'm going to keep giving you the same–It isn't a contradiction because he's sitting there in front of the Des Moines Register editorial board. They're talking about specific legislation in Congress. You know what, he is going to have a piece of legislation in his budget that says there isn't going to be taxpayer money used for abortions."

- CNN's Rachel Streitfeld and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

Filed under: 2012 • Abortion • Mitt Romney • Reince Priebus
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. steve

    Mitt is on the record over the past decade of having multi points of view on the issue. He crafts his response based on the audience and who he is tring to sell.

    October 11, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  2. Ken

    And here we go – back to abortion and women's health care – just when Mitt thought that he had made a big leap forward by faking a moderate stance.

    Keep it happening. America will really see what the "Flip Flopper – Say Anything You Want to the Right Crowd" actually stands (or doesn't stand) for.

    October 11, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  3. gt

    abortion will never ever have compromise....this election is about the economy....jobs..taxes...and our future to provide a chance for a better life....

    October 11, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  4. Sniffit

    Unwavering? Yes. Unwavering position = "what do you want to hear?"

    October 11, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  5. GI Joe

    I answer to God for my sins. NOT to Mitt Romney. And my wife feels the same. Our daughter is NOT going to be used to breed babies every year just to build up the Military for republicans to send to war.

    No to Romney/Ryan

    I voted for Obama/Biden and in a few minutes I'll be picking up 3 more elderly people to help them get to the polls and vote before the republicans take away all rights for democrats to vote.

    October 11, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  6. ST

    I am asking myself: If Romney was a good governor in Mass. and worked with Dems and Republicans as he claimed in the last debate. Why is he lagging behind and no possibility of winning there. If he claims he has a record, what was that record good for?

    October 11, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  7. rs

    At this point, Republicans simply don't care what Mr. Romney says (and he has been ALLLLL over the map) because all they want to do is win. They have no coherent plans, they'll raise the debt and defict, they'll finish off the middle class, they'll even give Romney a pass when he says he isn't giving the rich more wealthy welfare- even though we all know that is about the only certainty with anything Romney says or does. They may win. We'll all lose.

    October 11, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  8. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    May the "Stench" be with you, Prince.

    October 11, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  9. shawm

    Romney is a serial liar!

    October 11, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  10. Marty, FL

    Romney flip-flops all over the place and cannot be trusted to uphold women's privacy to make their own decisions about their bodies without RNC/Romney's governmental intrusion.

    Romney even stated supporting "personhood," which would outlaw women's contraceptives. This is a serious intrusion and not presidential.

    October 11, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |

    Oh shut up Priebus. Anyone defending that lying sack of manure is deceiving the American People as well. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. I don't know how people like Andrea Saul or Priebus sleep at night knowing that they're defending this liar.

    October 11, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  12. tammyk tammy

    What a bunch of doublespeak. Romney won't have to tackle the issue of abortion through legislation. Their goal is to place enough conservative, pro-life judges on the Supreme court to overturn Roe v Wade and send women back to the dark ages of backstreet abortions. Poor desparate women won't stop having abortions, they will simply be at risk of dying from the procedure. Meanwhile, the wealthy women will simply fly out of the country if they need an abortion. Economic security for women, social safety nets. and the availability of affordable birth control are the best ways to reduce abortions, but the Repub party consistently fights against these measures. Repubs care only for the fetus and not for the life poverty that the child will likely lead after it is born. What a contradiction of their supposed Christian values. Once again the Mormon bishop is Lying for the Lord.

    October 11, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  13. 4moreyears

    This is pure Bull you know what. STOP IT PRIEBUS Mitt is no fool or dummy and nor are the American People especially us women.

    October 11, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  14. jinx88

    Another piece of trash from Mittens group. You can never get a straight answer from anybody in Mittens campaign, they always go back and somehow try to tie Obama to what they say or didnt say.

    October 11, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  15. Sorensen

    Old Prairiebus is wrong, irrelevant and stupid, as usual. Gop does not realize how many votes this abomination is
    costing them.

    October 11, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  16. DaveC

    As a moderate republican turned independent voter how in heaven's name can this guy say that he has no problem with what Romney said? Just in the last twelve months Romney has switched positions on this very item at least three times. It seems that everything Romney says lately (including some things stated in the first debate) needs to be "clarified" by someone in his campaign. Is that always going to happen if he becomes President? Is there going to be a "Clarifier in Chief" who follows Mitt around and corrects all the speaking mistakes he makes?

    This goes back to the central issue that if Mitt doesn't stand for something, he stands for nothing. I get a little confused (and I am sure I am not the only independent voter on this one) what Romney stands for on a daily basis. Romney is missing a golden opportunity with independent voters because most of us are not that enthused with Obama and are looking for a moderate republican. The problem is that every time Mitt seems to shift that way he runs right back to the goofy side of the republican party. Mitt, you can't have it both ways.

    October 11, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  17. Anthony

    Mathematics is the enemy of Romney. The numbers in his tax plan do not add up. There are just not enough deductions and loopholes for the rich in the tax code to make up for his 20% tax cut for everyone, which includes the rich. Romney has to raise taxes or blow up the deficit. Romney says that after the tax cuts, the rich will end up paying the same amount as before, and there will be an economic boom. It is not clear where the economic boom comes from if the rich are paying the same amount as before. What do the rich get the money to create jobs if they are paying the same amount as before?

    Gender gap is also the enemy of Romney. Romney's lead among men is less than Obama's lead among women, and there are more women than men in the electorate. No matter how well Romney debates, unless he erases the gender gap he is not going to win.

    October 11, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  18. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This could be an indicator that Romney is flexible with many things. Could it be where he stands on abortion alone or are there other things that he wiggles on?

    October 11, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  19. Pete

    Priebus should keep his mouth shut,he hasn't been around this jackel Romney as long as some of us.Priebus hasn't seen the personal destruction and misery this corporate vulture has inflicted on many corporations across America,his time as governor,he's the plague that scares most God fearing Americans.Priebus would back the devil as long as it keeps his job,plain and simple,so don't back an idiot if you don't want to look like one,most republicans commenting here as well!!

    October 11, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  20. Rammer

    It is 2012 not 1912. Abortion or anything to with reproductive matters is strictly a personal matter between the woman, her family & their doctor.
    When wil America get this straight.
    Pathetic & disgusting.

    October 11, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  21. Jamye54

    The problem Mr. Priebus is that Romney's own VP pick HAS introduced abortion legislation-38 times. The most recent was HR 212 which would declare "personhood" for zygotes–you know fertilized eggs. A co-sponsor of that bill is none other than Todd Akin. So...are you saying Romney didn't vet his VP pick about his legislative actions or are you both lying? Hmmm?

    October 11, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  22. beevee

    Romney and the RNC chairman prebius both are shameless.

    October 11, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  23. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    It has been made increasingly clear that the Republican Party cares nothing about women or the issues that affect them. The abortion issue, simply stated, is one group telling women they have no rights when it comes to their own bodies. Any woman who becomes pregnant, no matter what, must carry the fetus to term. This includes pregnant teenagers and in some cases pre-teens. Rape victems who would then be forced to raise their attackers child (not to mention that in some states the attacker will have state ordered vistation rights forcing the woman to stay in touch with her attacker). Drug addicts who, while using during pregnancy, bring forth tiny little addicts who have to be weaned off of whatever the mother has been injesting.

    Hust saying that abortion is a difficult but possibly better option.

    October 11, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  24. Facts don't Lie

    Priebus can spin this anyway he wants but Romney's biggest enemy right now is social media like You-Tube and Google because he can back track all he wants but the proof of his flip/flop/flips are right there. Obama should have called him out on these, his fault for not doing so and I hope he has learned a lesson.

    October 11, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  25. anthony rowe

    If there was no liberal bias, there would be no story about this. You see the quote? read it for your self. There will never be a pro life bill come across his desk from congress, therefore he will never sign a prolife bill. THere is no bill in congress that aligns itself with his PROLIFE views. you conclude what you want, its your life and opinion. But I can guarantee I know who you will vote for by how you spin his comment.

    October 11, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
1 2