I Get Emails: The “Trust Index” For The Top Tier Candidates On Abortion

This week-end, I received this email from RWN reader Rob Donavan,

“Terry Jeffrey said something the other day that I found very puzzling:

“However, when Fred Thompson was in the Unite States Senate, both times he ran for the Senate he ran as a pro-choice candidate. He was against the Republican pro-life plank in 1996, when I was out in San Diego fighting to keep it in the platform. And I think he has to explain much more persuasively than Mitt Romney did why it is that he is now a pro-life.”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19209859

Any info on that?”

First of all, if you want a candidate who is really rock solid on the life issue, you have to dip down in the 2nd tier. Among others, Duncan Hunter, Sam Brownback, and Mike Huckabee have exceptionally strong credentials on the issue.

But, in the top tier, there are no rock solid candidates on the life issue. So, what you have to do is look at the candidates as a whole, both their strengths and weaknesses, and decide whom you trust.

Now personally? Being pro-life is extremely important to me, especially because with a split Supreme Court, the next SCOTUS appointment has the potential to swing Roe v. Wade.

So, here’s my personal “trust index” on the pro-life issue.

Fred Thompson (high level of trust): Fred was a little squishy on the pro-life issue back in the nineties. Here’s some info from the Brody file that gives you a good rundown on the issue,

– On a 1996 Christian Coalition survey, he checked “opposed” to an amendment to the U.S. Constitution “protecting the sanctity of human life.”

– He included a handwritten clarification: “I do not believe abortion should be criminalized. This battle will be won in the hearts and souls of the American people.”

– In 1996, asked by the Memphis group FLARE (Family, Life, America, Responsible Education Under God Inc.) if human life begins at conception, Thompson circled “N/A.”

The flip side of this, again from the Brody file, follows,

“I think at the end of the day these abortion incidents from the 1990’s probably don’t amount to much. Listen, the reality is Thompson was a 100% national Right to Life guy. His Planned Parenthood score was 0. Those numbers mean something.”

In addition to his excellent voting record, Thompson is a diehard Federalist. In other words, philosophically, he believes that the abortion issue should be returned to the states. That suggests he would want a Scalia or Thomas type judge for the Supreme Court. It’s also worth noting that he’s the most reliably conservative candidate in the top tier. So, he just does not strike me as the kind of guy who would go against the base on an issue that’s this important. So, despite the fact that he’s not as solid on the issue as I’d like, as someone who’s pro-life, I’d feel very comfortable with Thompson picking the next justice who’s going to be on the Supreme Court.

Mitt Romney (Moderate level of trust): Romney, like Thompson, was squishy on the life issue back in the mid-nineties. Back in 1994, he told a tear jerking story about how “his brother-in-law’s sister _ an engaged-to-be-married teen who became pregnant _ died in a botched illegal abortion,” and that convinced him to be pro-abortion. Romney’s wife also gave money to Planned Parenthood in 1994, which suggests they were hard core, abort ’em all and let God sort ’em out types.

Then in 2002, Romney said he supported the Roe v. Wade decision and he actually sought out the endorsement of the “Republican Majority for Choice.” Then, in late 2004, Romney’s views supposedly changed over embryonic stem cell research, which was something that he had supported earlier on.

Quite frankly, given his flip flopping on a wide variety of issues, I think Romney’s conversion on the abortion issue has been purely motivated by politics. So, can you trust him on the life issue? Maybe, maybe not — although it would probably be in his interest to appoint an originalist judge since it’s such an important issue to the base and to be honest, I’m not sure he has any genuine principles on the issue that he wouldn’t be willing to toss overboard for politics’ sake. So, that’s why I’m willing to say that I have a moderate level of trust in him on the issue. He’s motivated by politics and the smart political thing to do would be to appoint an originalist judge.

John McCain (Low level of trust): McCain has an excellent voting record on abortion, but he is pro-embryonic stem cell research. However, back in 1999, he said explicitly that he opposed overturning Roe v. Wade on more than one occasion,

I’d love to see a point where (Roe v. Wade) is irrelevant, and could be repealed because abortion is no longer necessary. But certainly in the short term, or even-the long-term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations.”

“I would not seek to overturn Roe v. Wade tomorrow, because doing so would endanger the lives of women.”

Moreover, McCain — being McCain — loves nothing better than to make conservatives howl in anger in order to get praise from the mainstream media. There would be few better ways to do that than to appoint a “moderate” Supreme Court Justice who wouldn’t threaten Roe. v. Wade. So, he is just not trustworthy on this issue at all.

Rudy Giuliani (Low level of trust): Rudy is pro-abortion. Regardless of what he says publicly about the issue, is a pro-abortion President going to appoint an originalist judge who could be the deciding vote in overturning Roe v. Wade? I sincerely doubt it. President’s aren’t in the habit of appointing judges whom they believe won’t see eye to eye with them on issues like Roe and I doubt Rudy would be an exception.

I consult for the Duncan Hunter campaign.

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