Mitt Romney’s Abortion Problem

Rich Lowry has an interesting piece today over at National Review Online regarding what he calls “the non-McCain primary,” that is, the race to be the guy to take on McCain for the GOP nomination in 2007 & 2008.

To Lowry’s thinking, the race boils down to two attractive presidential aspirants: Sen. George Allan from Virginia and Gov. Mitt Romney from Massachusetts. Lowry is correct in presenting these two guys as potential political stars. But I’m not sure either of them truly qualifies as the conservative who will “stand athwart the sometimes unorthodox, party-defying McCain for the nomination.”

Let us first look at Sen. George Allen, who is a remarkably attractive candidate (but who, I must add, has been somewhat uninspiring during his sparse visits up here to New Hampshire). Lowry tips his hat to Sen. Allen’s “down-the-line conservatism.” And it is true that Sen. Allen’s stump speech could have been ripped from a Reagan anthology. But has he really behaved as a true conservative in the Senate? I don’t see it. He has been absent in the drive to curb spending, being virtually silent on the effort to eliminate (or at least curb) earmarks. Worse, Allen voted for the wildly unpopular (in fiscally conservative circles) prescription drug benefit; a burden Mitt Romney (and Sen. McCain, interestingly) doesn’t share.

Much more troubling to me, however, is the freeness of Gov. Romney’s ride, thus far. He has done a notably fabulous job of organizing quietly for a run for president. He has made a lot of eyelashes bat here in the Granite State. And he has a top-notch political operation (headed, I am told, by media strategist Mike Murphy.) But to call Mitt Romney a conservative is to torture that label worse than a terrorist at Gitmo!

Mitt Romney has no discernable position on abortion. Living in the Boston media market, I have watched Mitt Romney’s political career since his 1994 Senate campaign against Sen. Ted Kennedy, during which he stated to the Boston Globe: “I don’t think government should either promote or prevent abortion,” and told the Boston Herald, “I think it’s important that people see me not as a pro-life candidate.” I still don’t know where he stands on the issue, but these statements are troubling.

Romney has claimed to oppose federal funding for abortions, but he endorsed taxpayer-funded distribution of RU-486. He has repeatedly reiterated his support for the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, while consistently and erroneously professing to be pro-life, meaning, essentially, that he has the same position on this vital issue as disgraced former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.

I care very much about this important issue. And I am not alone. That is why I am so troubled that Gov. Mitt Romney has (so far) succeeded in schookering so many true conservatives. At a time when President George W. Bush is under constant attack from his fellow Republicans for not being sufficiently conservative, it astounds me that some of those same conservative Republicans are looking to Mitt Romney.

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