CEDAR RAPIDS — Ho-hum. Another Mitt Romney flip-flop.
That seems to be the reaction to a recent revelation that the 2012 Republican presidential hopeful supported taxpayer-funded abortions when he ran for governor in Massachusetts.
Given Romney’s track record of positions shifts — or flip-flops, depending on your perspective, what’s one more, said Sue Martinek of Linn County Prolife United.
It’s old news, according to Romney’s Iowa campaign manager Brian Kennedy, who called any attempt to use the 2002 survey to diminish Romney’s current pro-life position a “lame attempt to change the subject.”
Taxpayer funded abortions has been unpopular with voters, especially Republicans. In a 2009 Quinnipiac poll, GOP voters opposed using public funds to provide abortions by a 91 percent to 5 percent margin. Overall, the public opposed taxpayer-funded abortions by 72 percent to 23 percent.
So Romney, like the other candidates for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, opposes paying for abortions with tax dollars.
So while it’s “a negative that he waffles around on it,” Martinek is withholding judgment on Romney’s conversion from a pro-choice gubernatorial candidate to a pro-life presidential hopeful. The latest bit of information probably won’t change many minds because pro-life voters have crossed Romney off their lists, she said. They’re looking for a candidate who has been pro-life all of his or her life.
“People who are looking at that as an issue to form their vote would look at that and say we have other candidates who have been very firm about it their entire political careers,” Martinek said. “We have some really strong pro-life candidates … other better choices.”
Voters are looking for a candidate with a pro-life record, said Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
“It’s about consistency,” she said. “Unlike weather vane politicians in this campaign, Gov. Perry has been consistently committed to protecting life.”
Every time one more Romney policy change is revealed “it should be concerning to anyone, especially voters who wants someone who is not only dependable but consistent on important issues.”
“Some candidates make it easy when they do flip-flops so frequently,” Cesinger added.
Romney’s journey from pro-choice to pro-life was not a flip-flop, but a conversion, according to Kennedy, who counts himself among pro-life voters backing Romney.
The release of a 2002 Planned Parenthood candidate survey on which Romney answered “yes” when asked whether he supported using state Medicaid funds to provide abortions to low-income women is neither news nor likely to be a factor in caucusgoers’ choice of a nominee, he said.
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“He was a pro-choice candidate when he ran for governor in 2002,” said Kennedy. “He had a change when he was governor. As governor, he was pro-life and as a (presidential) candidate he has been pro-life.”
Attempts to make the survey and Romney’s response an issue in the caucus campaign is less about abortion and more about distracting voters, according to Kennedy.
Iowa GOP caucusgoers are making their choices on the basis of jobs and economy, he said.
“That will be the issue when we run against Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is the strongest candidate on the jobs and economy,” he said. Candidates with “lesser records” on those issues — including Obama, want to change the subject.
“They know that an election about jobs and the economy is an election Mitt Romney is well-positioned to win,” he said. “So whether it’s the Democrats or a Republican rival, those folks bringing up issues other than jobs and the economy are simply trying to change the subject.
“But you sow doubts about your rival by sharing new information,” Kennedy said. “There’s nothing new here. Everyone knows about this. Mitt Romney wrote about it in his book.”
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