Last week in Laconia, NH, Mitt Romney was asked a question about abortion. Doug Lambert of GranitGrok, was there to videotape the answer. It turns out that the person who asked the question is a Democratic operative, so I discounted this. But then Green Mountain Politics highlighted the quote (which he got wrong, sorry Chris…). Romney was asked "is abortion murder?". Romney responded:

I don’t want to use that term because it means different things to different people. … It is taking human life … Murder has — I used to go to law school — murder has malice of forethought and  all sorts of other things

Now, I know that some people are going to get wound up about Romney’s answer about abortion, but there’s nothing really new here. I think that there are a bunch of interesting rhetorical things going on here. But let’s make two things clear:

Mitt Romney said that murder "means different things to different people" and used his implicit authority as a lawyer to explain his complicated position.

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7 Comments

Chas · June 3, 2007 at 2:55 AM

Is it just me, or whenever Romney get’s asked a tough question, he just tries to confuse his audience and hope they don’t keep pressing him. Remember the stem cell question in the first debate, he used a bunch of jargon that nobody had any clue about instead of actually taking a stand. This sort of pandering may have worked in the ole days, but in the youtube, gotcha journalism, and video tracker era, it’s going to be a tough road ahead.

BuckeyeStateBlog · June 3, 2007 at 3:21 AM

Howdy,

My name’s Jerid, and I asked the question at the townhall. Also, I happen to be a Democrat (gasp).

I think it’s a fair question. In any scenario where abortion is made illegal, there are going to be penalties for breaking the law. I’d just like to know what candidates think those penalties should be. Also, I think its fair to get the candidates on record as to whether they believe abortion is murder or not – that should affect their outlook.

Best,
Jerid

BuckeyeStateBlog · June 3, 2007 at 3:22 AM

Oh, and yea. Romney waffled like crazy.

blackrepublican · June 3, 2007 at 8:30 AM

“If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullsh*t.” I think this is his motto. I understand because I’m in consulting as well and you can clearly see when the consultant comes out.

ALB · June 3, 2007 at 10:49 AM

Unlike Romney, who used to go to law school, I am in law school. Less experienced and unqualified, but with a casebook at my side.

As I sit here studying for my crim law exam, I’ll just note that the California Supreme Court, in 1970, heard a case about whether or not a man could be convicted of murder for severely beating his 8 month pregnant ex-wife, killing the child she was carrying. A four week premature infant is viable, even in those days.

The result: it was not murder. Why? Because California’s criminal law was specifically only statutory (if it wasn’t what the statute described as murder, it wasn’t murder). The court concluded that the statutory definition of murder in California, dating back to 1850, only applied to those born alive. Feticide wasn’t within the statutory definition. (My casebook doesn’t say–and I haven’t researched the issue in the midst of finals–whether California later passed an amendment criminalizing this).

All this to say: murder does often mean something slightly different in the courts of different states. But it’s still a really cr*ppy answer by Romney, and one which utterly dodges the heart of the question.

(And most states no longer define murder through “malice aforethought” or “depraved heart” or any other nifty language.)

ee2793 · June 5, 2007 at 9:31 PM

Gee, am I surprised Dems go to this blog to read news?

eyeon08.com » Romney cites his education as authority · December 21, 2007 at 9:30 AM

[…] This reminded me when he tried to weasel out of answering a question about whether abortion was murder by invoking being a lawyer: I don’t want to use that term because it means different things to different people. … It is taking human life … Murder has — I used to go to law school — murder has malice of forethought and  all sorts of other things … […]

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