Embattled New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, perhaps in an attempt to curry favor among Republicans who have kept their distance since the scandal over his office’s closing of the George Washington Bridge heated up in January. But while the Governor’s speech garnered a decent amount of chuckles and applause, it also contained one glaring error: Christie claimed that no anti-abortion Democrat has ever spoken at a Democratic convention.
“I’ve got asked the question last year,” Christie said to applause, “‘Governor, you’re very popular in a blue state. How can you export that to the rest of the country, given the intolerance on social issues in your party?’ And I said, well, let me ask you a question. You said the Republicans are intolerant. I’ll just tell you this: At our national convention, we’ve had people like Tom Ridge and Colin Powell and Condi Rice speak at our national conventions. Even though I don’t agree with their position on abortion. Tell me, sir, the last pro-life Democrat who was allowed to speak at a Democratic convention? By the way, don’t strain yourself, because there’s never been one. They’re the party of intolerance, not us.”
The claim that no Democrat who opposes abortion has ever spoken at a Democratic convention is simply untrue. While there has long been a theory that former Gov. Bob Casey (D-PA) was passed over for a speaking role at the 1992 convention over his opposition to abortion, the Governor was actually denied a spot because he refused to endorse the Clinton-Gore ticket.
At that same convention, however, several speakers opposed abortion, Sens. John Breaux (D-LA) and Howell Heflin (D-AL) and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley among them. Since then, former House Democratic Whip David Bonior (D-MI) spoke at multiple conventions, as did Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).