Mitt Romney answered, vaguely, a question about his stance on abortion… (Charles Dharapak / Associated…)
Among Mitt Romney's recent attempts to appear a more moderate candidate than his rhetoric had previously indicated is a difficult-to-parse line about abortion. In an interview with the Des Moines Register, the GOP candidate responded to a question about whether he had plans for any abortion bills should he be elected: "There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda."
It's not Romney's fault that this has been widely reported as his saying that he has no plans for legislation to restrict abortion access. That's inaccurate reporting by the media, even though it's clear that Romney was trying to appear as though he had no "legislative agenda" on this key issue.
In fact, he didn't really answer the Register's question and apparently wasn't pressed to do so. Is Romney saying he doesn't support any of the existing legislation to restrict abortion rights? Not really. Is he saying he wouldn't sign such legislation? Not at all. He's merely speaking vaguely about whether such legislation would be part of his "agenda," whatever that means.
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Nor does the wording in any way preclude Romney from coming up with his own antiabortion legislation that he might urge Congress to pass if he became president. And of course, he doesn't refer at all to other antiabortion actions such as imposing administrative rules or appointing justices who oppose abortion rights.
But then, the newspaper didn't ask him about actions on abortion; it merely asked him about legislation, and then apparently failed to follow up with the obvious question to his answer, with all its caveats and fudges: What the heck did you mean by that, Mr. Romney?
If there's any subject on which Romney has done a lot of position-changing, it's abortion rights. The Atlanta Journal Constitution does an excellent job of quickly summarizing his record of multiple flip-flops on the issue, plus a lot of obfuscating in between.
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