The etch-a-sketch may be broken – worn down from wear. The white board is stained – erased too many times. Yesterday, Governor Mitt Romney told the Des Moines Register, “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.” The remarkable part of this statement is not that it runs counter to the position he’s held for this entire campaign, but rather that it aligns with the view he espoused more than a decade ago when he was running for a different office. Step right up and punch your ticket for the Merry-go-Mitt. If you don’t like what he’s saying at this moment, inevitably he will pivot to a view you agree with.
Shortly after the Governor’s comments to the Des Moines Register, his campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul wrote to the National Review, “Governor Romney would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life.” Romney’s comments had put the campaign in a tough spot. The new line had to be that their candidate would “support” legislation that restricts reproductive rights, but anti-abortion legislation would not be part of his “agenda.”
Let’s go to the video tape (all clips included in video below). A month ago Governor Romney told David Gregory on Meet the Press, “I am pro-life and will intend, if I’m president of the United States, to encourage pro-life policies.” So four weeks ago, curbing a woman’s right to choose would be a policy priority for a President Romney.
Throughout this campaign he said how he would achieve that goal. A President Romney would do his best to get Roe v. Wade overturned, saying at the January 7th debate, “in my view, if we had justices like Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Scalia, and more justices like that, they might well decide to return this issue to states as opposed to saying it’s in the federal Constitution. Do I believe the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade? Yes, I do.”
A President Romney would also sign an overall ban on abortions. Mike Huckabee asked him on October 2nd, 2011, “Would you have supported a constitutional amendment that would have established the definition of life at conception?” Romney’s response: “Absolutely.” And in typical Romney style, he said during a 2007 debate that he would be “delighted” to sign that kind of legislation.
After all of Romney’s tough talk on abortion, it’s jarring to hear him say just four weeks before the Presidential election that “no legislation with regards to abortion” would be a part of his “agenda.” But should it be that shocking? In the 2002 gubernatorial election in Massachusetts, Romney assured voters, “I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose, and I am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard.” That echoed the sentiment he expressed when he entered politics in 1994, challenging Senator Ted Kennedy. In a debate that October, Romney said, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country - I have since the time my Mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a Senate candidate. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years that we should sustain and support it. And I sustain and support that law and the right of a woman to make that choice.”
Governor Mitt Romney’s core beliefs on this subject, or at least how he speaks about them in public, haven’t just evolved, they’ve done a complete 360-degree turn. Like a carousel, Romney’s policy positions have been twirling since he launched his political career. If voters and fact checkers feel like they’re getting flip-flop fatigue, remember Senator Ted Kennedy warned of the Merry-go-Mitt back in 1994 with the prescient retort: “I am pro-choice, my opponent is multiple choice.”
Check out the video below for all the vintage Romney clips and see what Alex and the panel makes of the return of moderate Mitt: