With each step in this campaign, repeat GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney walks further away from the principles he once held. Quickly joining climate change, immigration, and health care in the grave on his progressive principles is his pro-choice stance. When he first campaigned for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, Romney promised to “preserve and protect” a woman’s right to choose. That position quickly melted away under the heat of right-wing scrutiny and now, in seeking to garner the religious right vote, Romney is trying to re-brand himself as an anti-choice candidate.
Of course, when a right-wing principle is so new, it’s hard to remember where the right-wing actually stands. Today at a town hall meeting at the University of New Hampshire in Manchester, NH, ThinkProgress’s Brad Johnson asked Romney whether, given his anti-abortion stance, there should be criminal sanctions on doctors or women if abortion should become illegal. Romney shut down the question as irrelevant, stating “I don’t think any political person has talked about criminal sanctions”:
TP: I know that you believe we should repeal Roe vs. Wade and I was wondering if abortion becomes illegal in some states, should there be criminal sanctions against doctors who still perform abortions or for women who get abortions?
ROMNEY:I don’t think anyone’s proposed that, have they? I don’t think any political person has talked about criminal sanctions. I think the right thing for matters relating to abortion is very similar to what I described in other measures which is return this to states. Let the states make their own choice. I’m pro-life and I think this is best handled — like many other things — at the state level.
Watch it courtesy of American Bridge :
It should come as no surprise that Romney seems to have forgotten he himself talked about this issue prior to his first presidential run. “In the case of a doctor, the kinds of penalties would be potentially losing a license or having some other kind of restriction. In the case of partial birth abortion, as I recall, the penalty is a possible prison term not to exceed two years,” he said in 2007.
He also might want to recheck with his GOP colleagues, unless by “nobody” he means several notable figures in the GOP’s presidential field. Just this week, fellow candidate Tim Pawlenty made headlines for dropping his recent statement that there should be no criminal punishment for abortion. Fearing backlash from the GOP base, Pawlenty’s camp quickly reasserted that Pawlenty believes doctors “should be subject to a penalty possibly including a criminal penalty.” Another candidate Newt Gingrich is on the record stating that abortion should be considered a crime and legal punishment should focus “on doctors performing abortions.” Mike Huckabee, a favorite champion of social conservatives, also has said he’d punish doctors paid to provide abortions.
Given how recently he adopted his anti-choice position, it is no surprise that he is not aware how drastic the GOP’s anti-abortion demands actually are. Incidentally, Romney is speaking at the Faith & Freedom Conference here in D.C. tonight. His flip-flops will have to be much more extreme in order to convince the right-wing base that his brand new “principles” are more than convenient politics.