As Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gets closer to election day, his attempts to win over the coveted independent voter block without upsetting his own radical right social conservative base is becoming even more of a tight-wire act. Luckily, Romney seems to have an ample safety net underneath him, formed by a media willing to take him completely at his word and a party willing to completely ignore his pandering.
That’s the only explanation there can be for how within a matter of days, Romney has been able to convince the media that he has no interest in reducing access to abortion, while at the same time reassure the religious right that he still will be their champion for ending a woman’s right to choose. After telling the Des Moines Register that, “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda,” he let his surrogates fly, reminding those who might be concerned about his statements that he is, was, and always will be committed to a “pro-life” presidency.
Of course, the social conservatives believe him. If not, there would have been the thundering rage that only groups like Focus on the Family, the National Right to Life Committee and other anti-choice “family values” coalitions can provide. Sure, there was a small burst of anger from the so-called personhood movement, who claimed Romney was once more showing his true colors. “The U.S. has among the world’s most liberal abortion laws, and Romney seems unwilling to do anything to change that,” stated Jennifer Mason, spokesperson for Personhood USA, said in a public statement. “Governor Romney is insisting on maintaining the status quo of abortion on demand with no exceptions, through all nine months of pregnancy. This latest statement certainly indicates that he is out of touch with the conservative base and is turning his back on America’s women and children.”
Mason may believe Romney has given the anti-choice movement the cold shoulder, but she’s obviously alone. GOP elite swung into immediate action to ensure that their values voters knew that nothing has changed at all. RNC Chair Reince Priebus claimed he has no fear at all of a Romney defection when it comes to blocking a woman’s right to choose. “I see the flap over this Des Moines Register question. But… there’s nothing there there,” Priebus told CNN. “The fact of the matter is is that Mitt Romney has been absolutely, 100% consistent on this issue, that he’s pro-life…What he’s referring to is whether or not there were piles of legislation in the Congress, what specific bills in the Congress in regards to abortion, are you going to be pushing over the next four years.”
Are there no “piles” in the wings waiting to be signed or vetoed? What about PRENDA, the so-called “race and gender abortion ban” that if passed would exist only as a devise to question women of color about why they are seeking abortions, and to intimidate providers into thinking twice before performing terminations on minorities? Or the Child Interstate Abortion Act, a bill that would make illegal for a teen to go to a different state than she resides in to obtain an abortion, even if that other state has the closest clinic? Or a 20 week federal “fetal pain” ban, the piece of legislation that Romney promised to the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List in order to firm up their support? Or even the Human Life Amendment, the “protection from moment of conception to natural death” plank that was reaffirmed in his party’s own platform just a few short weeks ago?
Anti-choice special interest groups have no fear that Romney won’t follow through on his promises to them, knowing that the public face he wears prior to the election is to win votes, not a sign of changing policy. Once he is elected, they are certain he will give them what they want. Talking Points Memo contacted Focus on the Family, the National Right to Life Committee and SBA List — one called Romney’s quote a “hiccup,” another said it “rang no alarm bells,” and all three agreed that they were not concerned in the least.
Each believes Romney will be a dedicated anti-choice President, despite what he says to the press. They all believe they know exactly what the real Romney will do when elected. The question is, do the voters?
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia commons