Is the great conservative hope a recent convert to the pro-life cause?
Pro-Romney site Evangelicals For Mitt says that, like their man from Massachusetts, Fred Thompson ran as a pro-choice candidate in two elections. The site posts excerpts from articles in the mid-1990s describing Thompson as “pro-choice” and against a constitutional ammendment banning late-term abortions, though, there aren’t any direct quotes of him identifying himself as pro-choice, and at this moment, no startling YouTubes. Also, he favored parental notification and opposed partial birth abortion as well as federal funding for abortion, according to the excerpts. He also had a pretty solid pro-life voting record, apparently.
Here are the excerpts:
U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson says he seldom hears about abortion in campaign travels throughout Tennessee and hopes the issue is downplayed at the Republican National Convention. The Tennessee Republican, a pro-choice defender in a party with an anti-abortion tilt, is preparing for next week’s convention in San Diego. He said the party must avoid distracting issues and focus on electing Bob Dole as president. “We need to concentrate on what brings us together and not what divides us,” Thompson said in an interview with The Tennessean published Tuesday. Thompson said he opposes making early-term abortions a crime, as some Republicans would like to do with a constitutional amendment. “But I don’t think you should bolt on one issue. I’m still not convinced platforms are a good idea. We know what we believe in and I don’t think we need to write it all down in a document,” Thompson said. (AP, 8/6/96)
On abortion, both Thompson and Cooper are pro-choice. But Thompson favors parental notification, Cooper voted against it. (National Review, 6/27/94)
Though Thompson says he’s pro-choice, his voting record on abortion issues (which includes opposing fellow Tennessean Henry Foster’s nomination for surgeon general) has earned him high marks from both the Christian Coalition and the National Right to Life Committee. He has also won the backing of the tobacco industry and the NRA. (Washington Monthly, 12/1/96)
Nothing in here is as damaging to Thompson as the statements Romney made in Massachusetts much more recently, but as Evangelicals for Mitt points out, it is a lot easier to be pro-life in Tennessee than Massachusetts. I’d be curious to learn more about what Thompson actually said back then, because for all the ribbing Romney has taken on his abortion evolution, it’s only fair to give other potential candidates the same scrutiny, especially because the Thompson boomlet is based on him being the whole package.