MSNBC’s David Shuster filed this report on Monday’s Hardball, which sums up Sunday’s Republican presidential debate in Iowa. Romey’s flip-flops were a big topic of discussion. Romney said, “I am pro-choice, and that is the truth….and I am tired of people that are holier than thow because they are pro-choice longer than I have.

The report goes on to discuss Romney’s contention “he has always been secretly pro-life” and regretted not being open about his true beliefs while governor of the liberal state of Massachusetts.   

Schuster goes on to say, “The issue is whether Romey is a man of true beliefts, or if he will say anything to get elected.” 

Romney then accused Senator Barack Obama of inconsistency on foreign policy. “In one week he went from saying he’s to sit down for tea with our enemies to he’s going to bomb our allies. In one week he went from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove.” 


John McCain’s criticism of Mitt Romney’s abortion flip was the subject of a post yesterday–Romney was pro-choice as governor of Massachusetts and since running for president has reiterated pro-life positions, justifying his about face with the contention that he was always personally pro-life. While McCain’s gripe was not that Romney was at one point pro-choice but rather that he was inconsistent, let’s take a look at how McCain does feel about pro-choice Republican candidates.

On May 8, in reference to why he thinks Giuliani’s position on abortion could prevent the former New York City mayor from receiving the Republican presidential nomination, McCain told the AP,

“I think it’s one of the fundamental principles of a conservative to have a respect and commitment to the dignity of human life, both the born and the unborn.”

However, as captured in this You Tube video, McCain told CNN several years ago,

“But we all know, and it’s obvious, that if we repeal Roe v. Wade tomorrow, thousands of young American women would be performing illegal and dangerous operations. I want us to be a party of inclusion. I think that we can all be members of the Republican party whether we are pro-choice or pro-life because we share the same goal, and that is the elimination of abortion because it’s an unpleasant and terrible procedure. We think–I think, that we must go back to the party platform of 1980 and ’84, we include people who have this specific disagreements, who share our same goals.” (Unfortunately, this video is not dated, but given the banner across the screen, it’s from some point during McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign.)

Not entirely a flip-flop, but these two statement are not 100% consistent either. McCain admits that at one point the party had room for the pro-choice, but now, he contends that a pro-choice candidate goes against the fiber of conservatism. No to imply the Republican party hasn’t evolved since the CNN interview and that what once might have been acceptable by the party today is not (particularly with the rise of Evangelical support within the party). But we thought it would be helpful to point out this discrepancy, nonetheless.

It’s also helpful to note that USA Today also wrote on May 8 that “Presidential hopeful John McCain says it’s not impossible for a Republican candidate who favors abortion rights to win the nomination, but says such a candidate would face long odds.”

Further, it also doesn’t hurt to reiterate a flip we’ve discussed a few times before in which McCain said in 2000 he would consider repealing Roe v. Wade, but he then completely backtracked these statements. On April 17, we wrote,


Yesterday, John McCain’s campaign sent an e-mail to supporters in Alabama reiterating the Senator’s anti-abortion record. Of particular note is the assertion that, “John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned” (See below for the full e-mail.)

This contradicts statements made by the Senator in his 2000 presidential campaign. On August 19 of 1999, he told the San Francisco Chronicle, “I’d love to see a point where it [Roe] 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 vs. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to (undergo) illegal and dangerous operations.” (more…)

According to an AP story today, John McCain lashed out at Mitt Romney, of his top competitors in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, for Romney’s flip on abortion. The AP writes,

“Republican John McCain’s campaign on Wednesday circulated a video clip showing then-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney reiterating his vow to uphold the state’s abortion-rights laws.

I have indicated that as governor, I am absolutely committed to my promise to maintain the status quo with regards to laws relating to abortion and choice, and so far I’ve been able to successfully do that,‘ Romney says. ‘And, my personal, philosophical views about this issue are not something that I think would do anything other than distract from what I think is a more critical agenda’ that includes jobs, education and health care.

Romney made the remark at a news conference on May 27, 2005, the same day he, in the name of ‘respecting human life,’ vetoed state legislation that would expand embryonic stem cell research. Nevertheless, McCain’s campaign sought to exploit Romney’s inconsistencies on the issue.

As a GOP governor of a liberal state, Romney repeatedly vowed not to change state abortion laws. He supported abortion rights as recently as 2 1/2 years ago, even though he insists he has always personally opposed the practice.

Now, as a presidential candidate seeking the Republican nomination, he not only emphasizes his personal opposition to abortion rights, but he also calls for the repeal of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationally.


The New York Times ran an article yesterday about the importance of authenticity in this year’s presidential race. The Times writes,

“Democrats cast themselves as courageous truth-tellers in their presidential debate Sunday night. Republicans debating Tuesday night might make the same claim. But if recent history is a guide, both fields will be bereft of authentic authenticity…

‘I think we’re living in a post-Bush world where authenticity is going to rule the day,’ said Republican strategist Scott Reed, who ran Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign. ”Everybody has had it with the whistling, don’t-worry-be-happy song and is looking for some real straight talk and some authenticity. Actions have consequences.”

John McCain learned that lesson. Some of his own advisers say the Arizona senator damaged his straight-talking image by bending over backward to appease conservative interests groups that dominate the GOP nomination fight.”

Today’s posts have been heavy on the John McCain because his interview with Tim Russert gave the candidate the opportunity to explain many of the flip-flop accusations against him. A few weeks ago, Reality Check wrote a post in which McCain flipped on abortion. He discussed the flip with Tim Russert this morning.

Our initial post went something like this… John McCain wrote an e-mail to Alabama supporters in which his campaign said “John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned.” This contradicted statements made by the Senator in his 2000 presidential campaign. On August 19 of 1999, he told the San Francisco Chronicle, “I’d love to see a point where it [Roe] 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 vs. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to (undergo) illegal and dangerous operations.”

Today on Meet the Press, McCain said,

“MR. RUSSERT: Back in 1999, you gave an interview to the San Francisco Chronicle, and you said this…

SEN. McCAIN: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: …”Certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe vs. Wade, which would then force X number of women in American to undergo illegal and dangerous operations.”

SEN. McCAIN: Well, it was in the context of conversation about having to change the culture of, of America as regards to this issue. That is a conversation that I had in that context. I have stated time after time after time that Roe v. Wade was a bad decision, that I support a woman–the, the rights of the unborn. I have fought for human rights and human dignity throughout my entire political career. To me it is an issue of human rights and human dignity. That conversation was in the context of we have to help young women who are experiencing a crisis pregnancy. We have to help them with compassion, and we hope–have to help those young women with courage. And we also have to do whatever we can to let them know that if they don’t want the child, if they’ll bring them into life, that we’ll do everything we can to help with adoption. Just like there’s three–I have three adopted children. It’s a wonderful thing. But my position has been consistently in my voting record, pro-life, and I continue to maintain that position and voting record. Is it a tough issue in America? Yes. But I believe the states should be making those decisions.



According to the New York Times, Rudy Giuliani is about to stop his flipping and flopping on the ever-divisive and always explosive abortion issue, surely to the consternation of some of his supporters.

‘After months of conflicting signals on abortion, Rudolph W. Giuliani is planning to offer a forthright affirmation of his support for abortion rights in public forums, television appearances and interviews in the coming days, despite the potential for bad consequences among some conservative voters already wary of his views, aides said yesterday.

At the same time, Mr. Giuliani’s campaign — seeking to accomplish the unusual task of persuading Republicans to nominate an abortion rights supporter — is eyeing a path to the nomination that would try to de-emphasize the early states in which abortion opponents wield a great deal of influence. […]

Mr. Giuliani’s aides were concerned both because [his conflicting statements] opened him up to a new round of criticism from abortion critics, who have never been happy with the prospect of a Republican presidential candidate who supports abortion rights, while threatening to undercut his image as a tough-talking iconoclast who does not equivocate on tough issues.

The campaign’s approach would be a sharp departure from the traditional route to the Republican nomination in the last 20 years, in which Republicans have highlighted their antiabortion views.

Mr. Giuliani hinted at what aides said would be his uncompromising position on abortion rights yesterday in Huntsville, Ala., where he was besieged with questions about abortion and his donations to Planned Parenthood. “Ultimately, there has to be a right to choose,” he said.

Asked if Republicans would accept that, he said, “I guess we are going to find out.”’

It’s certainly appropriate to applaud Giuliani for his decision to quit squirming and affirm his iconoclastic (for Republicans, certainly not New Yorkers) stance despite the possibility of alienating many Republican constituents, and this could gain him as many supporters as it loses.  But he is also ever the politician: could it possibly be a coincidence that this new announcement comes within two days of this report report outing Giuliani as a Planned Parenthood donor?  Reality Check will keep track if this new direction is a bold strategem or just making the best out of a bad situation.

By the way, the New York Times article has a neato Giuliani timeline of what he’s said over the years if you scroll down a few inches.  Check it out! 

This one didn’t get reported much; I happened upon it while reading the full transcript of the Republican debate.  In contrast to Giuliani’s hugely controversial support for public funding for abortions — visible in these two YouTube videos both from 1989 and from just a month ago on Aprl 4th — he abruptly reversed course in the G.O.P. debate last week.

In this first video, from 1989, Giuliani supports “public funding for abortions for poor women” so that no one is denied resources to make the abortion decision.  Although he seems to speak in a global sense, he does not specify location and, as a New York politician, he could well have been referring only to New York law.

The second statement is much more explicit.  “If it’s a constitutional right, even if you do it on a state by state basis, you have to make sure people are protected.”  He seems to be saying that maybe states might have to pay for it instead of the federal government, but that a national constitutional right must be protected everywhere.

In last week’s debate, however, Giuliani completely flipped and shifted more towards his “states’ rights” position of electing strict constructionists and letting the chips fall as they may.  He evokes the Hyde Amendment, the 1976 law forbidding federal funding for abortions.  From The New York Times:

‘Mr. MATTHEWS: Why do you support the use of public funds for abortion?

MR. GIULIANI: I don’t. I support the Hyde amendment. I hate abortion. I wish people didn’t have abortions.

MR. MATTHEWS: So you’re not for funding at all?

MR. GIULIANI: I believe that the Hyde amendment should remain the law. States should make their decision. Some states decide to do it, most states decide not to do it. And I think that’s the appropriate way to have this decided.

MR. MATTHEWS: Should New York — when you were mayor of New York, should they have been paying for — the state should have been paying for —

MR. GIULIANI: That’s a decision New York made a long time ago, and New York —

MR. MATTHEWS: And where were you on that?

MR. GIULIANI: I supported it in New York. But I think in other places, people can come to a different decision.’

In contrast to April 4th, when he supported protecting the constitutional right to abortion for all women, he now explicitly mandates that funding be available on a state by state basis.

The question for the race is whether shifts like this will undermine Giuliani’s reputation as a strong and independent-minded leader, especially after the new revelations that he gave money to Planned Parenthood in the 1990s.  And will his new rhetoric reframing his moderate record offset the erosion in support that could result from such besmirchment of his image?

Next Page »