Our guest blogger is Elon Green, a freelance writer living in Brooklyn.
The conservative Susan B. Anthony list has been attempting to get GOP presidential candidates to sign a pledge committing them to a fierce anti-abortion agenda, which would include: appointing anti-abortion judges to the Supreme Court, the Cabinet and the Executive Branch; defunding Planned Parenthood; and signing into law the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act. A week ago, the head of Susan B. Anthony List, Marjorie Dannenfelser, gave former Gov. Jon Huntsman an ultimatum:
DANNENFELSER: I take him at his word except that when he did write his own pledge, he excluded the appointments piece and that gives us great concern. I do think — I know that Huntsman — we have seven days for Huntsman to sign, however he’s communicated that he doesn`t sign pledges. And I think that will be a very big problem for him if he doesn’t.
TODD: Do you plan on — see, you have this pledge. Do you plan on spending money on behalf of those who sign the pledge or do you spend money and advertise against those who did not?
DANNENFELSER: Well, we will definitely support in every way that we possibly can in word and in deed the folks who sign it. Part of politics is communicating who has not done what you like to do.
TODD: So you plan on doing that. So people –
DANNENFELSER: Without question. Yes.
The deadline has passed. And this morning, Dannenfelser wrote an email to her SBA list attacking Huntsman, calling it “extremely disappointing to see another candidate who is running on a pro-life message refuse to sign the promise to voters that he will act as a leader for our movement if elected to the White House.” For his part, Huntsman has said he won’t sign political pledges of any kind.
Mitt Romney, however, is not averse to signing pledges. Yesterday, he pledged his support to Cut, Cap and Balance, a promise not to raise the debt ceiling short of “substantial” deficit-reducing spending cuts, spending caps and a balanced budget amendment. Last week, he signed Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which he happily supported during the last Presidential election cycle. But Romney has drawn a line in the sand: He will not, he says, sign the Susan B. Anthony List’s four-pronged pledge. The pledge, Romney wrote two weeks ago in The National Review, is “overly broad and would have unintended consequences.”
But Dannenfelser has taken a gentler tone towards Romney, saying “we look forward to [Romney’s] signature on this important promise to the cause.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Tim Pawlenty are all signatories of the SBA pledge, while Cain has abstained — albeit in Cain’s case, his decision is not a matter of anti-abortion convictions. Congress, he said, would have to “advance the legislation” before he could sign it.
Bachmann, who has risen in the polls on the strength of her social conservatism, has used Romney’s inaction to her advantage. She told a South Carolina audience she takes Romney “at his word” that he’s pro-life. But, she noted, “he’s had some issues with that in his past.”