Mitt Romney is the latest target of one of the GOP campaign playbook’s most effective tactics: the flip-flopper branding.
Yesterday Personhood USA organized a forum for the GOP presidential field, and four of the Republican presidential candidates attacked frontrunner Mitt Romney, who wasn’t there, on his record on abortion rights.
Mitt Romney’s shift from a mild and meek support of abortion rights to his current loud and strong opposition has been a topic of conversation for several months now. While he didn’t attend the forum, Governor Romney’s rivals are looking to exploit his inconsistency on the issue ahead of Tuesday’s South Carolina primary.
Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum have each signed a Personhood USA pledge stating that they would advocate laws defining life as beginning at conception and only appoint judges and officials who support that position.
All four were in rare form, courting evangelical and social conservative voters to further separate Romney from the party’s anti-choice base. Moderators asked each candidate at the forum a question related to Romney. Rick Perry was asked to differentiate his views from his rival’s. He quipped, “You don’t have enough time in here, seriously. Governor Romney’s been on both sides of the issue of life. This was a decision that Governor Romney made for political convenience, not an issue of his heart,” Perry said.
But Perry, who hasn’t always opposed abortion in all cases as he does now (he used to support rape and incest exceptions) described his own changing views as as a transformation not a flip-flop fro political convenience.
Perry’s out of the game, but all the candidates are united in their opposition to abortion rights, federal funding for abortion and Planned Parenthood, and what they consider overreaching by the courts on abortion-related issues. Gingrich and Santorum criticized Romney for language in the Massachusetts health insurance law that they said favors abortion-rights groups.
They also used the forum to attack Planned Parenthood (surprise) and the court system (also a surprise). Newt Gingrich claimed that he would “defund Planned Parenthood sometime in early 2013 if elected president,” while Paul said the organization “wouldn’t get any money” under his administration. Santorum and Perry pledged to veto any legislation that would include funding for Planned Parenthood and Ron Paul said the organization “wouldn’t get any money” under his administration.
And in case you need any further proof that women’s health means next to nothing to these guys, here are their statements about various reproductive rights issues.