I have been stunned by the attack on Sam Brownback over the last week by Mitt Romney partisans on abortion. The substance of the allegations is that Brownback was not a solid pro-lifer in 1994 and may have been pro-choice.

The Romney people have latched on to this as a way to defend themselves from attacks that they are flip-flopping on abortion. They claim that if Sam Brownback is allowed his conversion, then so should Mitt Romney.

There are several problems with this:

First, there is the issue of recency. As a recent Weekly Standard article (apparently the article was passed around at NR’s conservative gathering in Washington this weekend. Is this going to become a theme of grassroots assaults on Romney’s record?) has demonstrated, Romney was actively pro-choice much more recently. Indeed, Romney was even trying to get the support of NARAL with lines like:

"You need someone like me in Washington." Moreover, those present recall that Romney argued that his election would make him credible in the Republican party nationally and thus help "sensible" Republicans like him overshadow more conservative elements in the GOP.

Romney was not just a moderate Republican, he wanted to be a leader of the moderate Republicans against the conservatives. And the level of activism continued into his administration.

Second, there’s the issue of genuineness and expediency. A pro-Romney blogger on Evangelicals for Mitt recently attacked Brownback, but also walked into an anti-Romney self-trap. Nathan Burd said:

Contrast that with Senator Brownback’s odd explanation for his 1994 views on life. He was pro-life, but he didn’t want to say he was pro-life? Huh?

However, Mitt Romney has the same problem. As has been noted, Romney claimed to be pro-choice in 1994 and again in 2002. But it is not well understood that be backed off this position when he was flirting with running for Governor of Utah in 2001. In fact, he wrote in a letter to the Salt Lake Tribune (full letter at end of post):

I do not wish to be labeled pro choice. I have never felt comfortable with the labels associated with the abortion issue. Because the Olympics is not about politics, I plan to keep my views on political issues to myself.

So, again, the problem for Romney is not that he went from pro-choice or "indifferent" to pro-life, which is the substance of their attack against Brownback. He went from pro-choice to somewhere between pro-life or indifferent to vociferously pro-choice to pro-life.

Then, there’s the issue of believability. One pro-life activist characterized his trouble with Romney’s conversion like this:

What I don’t understand about Romney’s “conversion” is how he contributes it to when he was studying the embryonic stem-cell research issue. I don’t understand how a tiny human embryo was able to “convert” him, but a visibly developing child in the womb wasn’t able to. Just does not make much sense to me.

Finally, the conservative movement has to ask itself a question: what price is too high. As another activist says (emphasis in the original):

We cannot give Mitt Romney a pass on this solely because he’s running against John McCain. To do so would be being dishonest to ourselves, the conservative movement, and any notions that honesty and integrity matter in politics.

This blogger continues by questioning Mitt Romney’s integrity in general. If the flip-flopper moniker (which now seems well settled in the press) moves into a problem with Romney’s integrity, he is toast.

 

July 12, 2001

Mitt’s Four ‘Nots’

The Salt Lake Tribune  

Given your recent article regarding my possible future in politics, I’d like to add four "nots" to the story. 1) I’m not considering a run for political office in Utah. As I’ve said many times over the last year, my Olympics job is far too compelling and demanding to allow me to give consideration to what I’ll do when it is complete.

In all likelihood, I’ll return to Massachusetts.

2) I will not change from Republican to Democrat. I’m a Republican, I come from a long line of Republicans, and I will not consider abandoning my Republican roots.

3) I do not wish to be labeled pro choice. I have never felt comfortable with the labels associated with the abortion issue. Because the Olympics is not about politics, I plan to keep my views on political issues to myself.

4) Because I am not in the Olympics for politics, I’m not going to get bogged down in political issues or political speculation. I came to the Olympics because I believed I could make a contribution to the Olympic movement, to the country and to Utah. I came because I believe the Olympics is one of the last great demonstrations of peace on the world stage. Like tens of thousands of other Utahns, I am a volunteer.

MITT ROMNEY

Salt Lake City


5 Comments

justin@mymanmitt.com · January 29, 2007 at 9:43 AM

You’re welcome to take issue with the attack. All that I’ve heard is 1) Romney admits he was pro-choice and that he is now pro-life and 2) Brownback has been pro-life but refused to call himself that in 1994. Political expediency is fine in my book. Just own up to it.

If you want to hear Romney’s pro-life journey in your own words. Here you go:
http://www.mymanmitt.com/2007/01/video-mitt-romney-on-abortion.asp

Carol McKinley · January 29, 2007 at 11:58 AM

The minutia of reasons why less than a handful of the conservative good old boy network in Massachusetts is supporting Romney has yet to be divulged.

Suffice it to say – in 2005 in the Boston Globe, the Mass Citizens for Life made a statement regarding Romney’s prolife record. There was none. From Mitt, there was no contact with any prolifers, no work with any prolifers, no presence with any prolifers whatsoever. In fact, if you google Marie Sturgis Mass Citizens for Life 2005 – you will come up with her statement that conveys is absent and unaccounted for and as a result of the actions he was taking that injured Catholics in Massachusetts, and his absence of record in the prolife network – Mass Citizens for Life considers Romney a proabort.

Take also into consideration the following:

Though Romney says he is against the use of embryos for stem cell research – – if you dig under the surface to google, you will come up with his actual policy on stem cell research. So long as the embryos are extra, he is not against their destruction to harvest stem cells for use, including cloning.

Now, on the face of that statement – when one with intellect ponders what exactly he means – – the fact of the matter is ALL EMBRYOS which have ever been and ever will be used for stem cell research hanging around in laboratories are “extra”. Therefore, there isn’t a cell in Massachusetts that Romney would object to destroying and using for stem cell research.

In other words – Women in Massachusetts are not being pumped up with estrogens and impregnated to produce multiple embryos and are presenting themselves at laboratories on day 13 so the mad scientists can retreive their embryos for the sake of stem cell research.

Romney is the master of deception.

Carol McKinley · January 29, 2007 at 6:25 PM

Justin,

It’s not going to fly any more than the gadfly. I don’t know who is giving the Mittster his political strategy but – whoever it is, is an idiot.

You think the prolife community doesn’t know the difference between Brownback who has been physically present and Romney who hasn’t?

Check the internet today – your man mitt is toast. His publicity stunt didn’t go off so well in D.C. this weekend. Being a prolifer is not something you can fake in person. Sound bytes in the newspapers can only go so far.

Here’s quote the Boston Globe of about Romney’s lack of prolife work as of July 3, 2005:

“Similarly, a leading antiabortion group is puzzled: ”We honestly don’t know where he stands on this issue,” said Marie Sturgis, executive director and legislative director for Massachusetts Citizens for Life.”

Sturgis, of the Massachusetts Citizens for Life, said Romney does not have regular contacts with her group. ”If we could, we would,” Sturgis said. When he ran for governor in 2002, she said, her group considered him an abortion rights supporter; Romney declined to complete the Citizens for Life questionnaire

Romney Inncorrectly Says Bush Was Once Pro-Choice at Conservative Times--Republican GOP news source. · February 24, 2007 at 5:47 PM

[…] As Soren Dayton said, there are two issues involved with Mitt’s conversion; recency and genuineness. Not only was Romney “effectively pro-choice” as little as 2 years ago, but he was vehemently pro-choice. He told NARAL in 2002 that they “need someone like me in Washington.” Not to mention the fact that he angrily denied getting the endorsement from Massachusetts Citizens for Life. This is why I have such a hard time believing his conversion story. He advocated fiercely on behalf of the pro-choice movement, but then suddenly has a complete turn around after the November 2004 stem cell meeting. […]

race42008.com » Blog Archive » Romney Inncorrectly Says Bush Was Once Pro-Choice · February 25, 2007 at 10:56 AM

[…] As Soren Dayton said, there are two issues involved with Mitt’s conversion; recency and genuineness. Not only was Romney “effectively pro-choice” as little as 2 years ago, but he was vehemently pro-choice. He told NARAL in 2002 that they “need someone like me in Washington.” Not to mention the fact that he angrily denied getting the endorsement from Massachusetts Citizens for Life. This is why I have such a hard time believing his conversion story. He advocated fiercely on behalf of the pro-choice movement, but then suddenly has a complete turn around after the November 2004 stem cell meeting. […]

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