Fred Barnes has a piece in the current Weekly Standard about Republican and Democratic presidential candidates who switch social-issues positions to match their party’s platform, especially on abortion. The gist of the article is correct, but it contains three problems:
1. Mitt Romney has switched on gay rights generally — his emphasis has changed and he no longer supports gay-rights legislation that he once did — but he opposed same-sex marriage before the 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision. He campaigned as an opponent of gay marriage and civil unions in 2002; even in 1994, when he made some federalist noises on gay marriage, he still was officially opposed.
2. John McCain has always officially favored the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Where he has flipped is on whether Roe should be overturned in the forseeable future. A semantic distinction, perhaps, but one worth noting.
3. It seems odd to argue that switching to the pro-life position is “essential” for a Republican presidential candidate when the GOP frontrunner is actually pro-choice. Giuliani’s abortion concessions are pretty minor: He’s willing to appoint conservative judges who may or may not vote to overturn Roe; he is willing to support the partial-birth abortion ban now that it has already become law.