I wish there were a way to write this post more diplomatically, but the truth is, I thought Mitt Romney looked like a total buffoon when he was talking about his changing positions on abortion, so I may as well come out and say it. I don’t know how I can be expected to take a candidate seriously who says, regarding his past abortion views: “I never said I was pro-choice, but my position was effectively pro choice.” What on earth is that supposed to mean? It’s hard to think of a statement about abortion that would be any more Kerry-esque.
Evidently what this pro-choice vs. “effectively” pro-choice dichotomy means is that we’re supposed to believe Romney was personally against abortion but supported a woman’s right to choose as a matter of law. (He reinforced this in his answer to the question on mistakes by saying he regretted taking an effectively pro-choice position even though he was “deeply opposed to abortion.”) However, if he’s going to admit mistakes, he should just be a man about it and go the full way, rather than try to qualify it by splitting hairs by trying to emphasize he personally opposed abortion. It just makes him seem that much more insincere.
Also, I thought it was especially audacious of Romney to say to Brownback, “I get tired of people who are holier than now, because they’ve been pro-life longer than I have.” Well, Romney shouldn’t be getting so sanctimonious either. He’s trying to bill himself as the best choice for social conservatives, and yet spent 35 years of his adult life as pro-choice/”effectively” pro-choice and has only become publicly pro-life in the last two. Romney still has a long way to go to convince conservatives that his pro-life conversion was genuine. He could show a dose of humility.
Meanwhile, it is especially damning to watch the video of his exchange with Brownback right after watching Romney’s 2002 exchange with Shannon O’Brien when he was running for governor. They are mirror images of one another. In 2002, Romney was belligerently and combatively disputing the suggestion that he was pro-life by touting his pro-choice views. Yesterday, he was belligerently and combatively disputing the suggestion that he was really pro-choice by touting his pro-life views. And as an added bonus, yesterday, Romney boasted that he had received an award from Mass Citizens for Life, and yet in the 2002 clip he ran away from their past endorsement of him like they were spreading the bubonic plague. I don’t know how anybody could watch those two clips back to back and still take anything Romney has to say seriously.
For an alternate view, check out Hugh Hewitt, who didn’t watch the debate but declared Romney the winner anyway based on press releases.
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