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Interviews with strings attached

<p>Mitt Romney doesn't want to have to deal with his Todd Akin problem anymore -- and he's taking steps to ensure he won't

Mitt Romney doesn't want to have to deal with his Todd Akin problem anymore -- and he's taking steps to ensure he won't.

In this case, Romney was willing to sit down for an interview with the CBS affiliate in Denver, but only if he could establish a ground rule: "The one stipulation to the interview was that I not ask him about abortion or Todd Akin."

Now, at the national level, Romney can't get away with a move like this, and wouldn't even try. The Republican tends to avoid interviews that might challenge him anyway, but I suspect if the Romney campaign approached, say, David Gregory, and said, "We can do an interview, but you can't ask about issues I don't like," the host will refuse.

But for a local affiliate in Denver, where interviews with would-be presidents are a little tougher to get, the reporter was willing to accept the interview opportunity with the strings attached.

The problem, of course, is that Romney feels the need to deem the subjects off-limits in the first place. It's not like Akin and abortion rights are some obscure trivia with no bearing on the presidential campaign -- this is now a major topic of national conversation.

1. Does Romney agree with his own party platform on a federal ban on all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest?

2. Did Romney meet late last year with a controversial doctor who believes rape victims can't get pregnant?

3. Does Romney agree with the 38 anti-abortion bills introduced by his own running mate, including one that redefines rape as it relates to Medicaid funding?

4. Does Romney still agree with what he said in 2007 when he boasted that that he'd be "delighted" to sign a bill that would no longer allow abortions "at all, period"?

5. Does Romney stand by what he said to Mike Huckabee during the primaries, when he said he "absolutely" supports a "Personhood" measure that would ban abortion and some forms of birth control?

These are legitimate areas of inquiry, which Romney no longer wants to deal with. Worse, he's trying to muzzle journalists who might even try to raise the subject. This kind of cowardice in a presidential candidate can only last so long.