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Rand Paul Pulls a Romney on Abortion

April 24, 2014

At an event this week at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics, 2016 White House hopeful Rand Paul came face to face with the inescapable conundrum for any Republican seeking the presidency. Hoping to secure the nomination of a party whose platform calls for a "human life amendment" banning abortion even in case of rape and incest, Paul nevertheless wants to avoid scaring the bejesus out of pro-choice general election voters. To walk that tightrope, the Kentucky Senator proclaimed his own personal belief that "life begins at the very beginning" before making this promise (around the 42:00 minute mark).

"We're not changing any of the laws until the country is persuaded otherwise."

If that dodge sounds familiar, it should. Mitt Romney used the same moratorium scam on abortion law to win the 2002 governor's race in Massachusetts before doing a U-turn just in time for the 2008 Republican primaries.
During his 2002 campaign, Romney used a televised debate with Democrat Shannon O'Brien to declare:

"I promised that if elected, I'd call a truce - a moratorium, if you will...I vowed to veto any legislation that sought to change the existing rules...I fully respect and will fully protect a woman's right to choose."

Of course, Romney had to say that he would "sustain and support" Roe v. Wade, and not just because liberal Massachusetts voters would demand it. After all, he had promised Planned Parenthood that he would. And during a Boston television interview with his wife Ann, Mitt emphasized that "so when asked will I preserve and protect a woman's right to choose, I make an unequivocal answer: yes." Worse still, And during his failed Senate run against Ted Kennedy 8 years earlier, the private equity titan revealed that preserving the right to choose was deeply personal to him:

"Many, many years ago, I had a dear, close family relative that was very close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion. It is since that time that my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter. And you will not see me wavering on that."

But like John McCain before him, Mitt Romney underwent a conversion on the road to Des Moines. It's no wonder his own strategist Mike Murphy acknowledged Mitt had "been a pro-life Mormon faking it as a pro-choice friendly."
As a roundup of conservative reaction over at Hot Air shows, right-wingers are apoplectic at Rand Paul's apostasy. They needn't be, as Ramesh Ponnuru explained at the National Review. "Paul is the lead sponsor of the 'Life at Conception Act,'" which would "implement equal protection under the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution for the right to life of each born and preborn human person."
Given the right-wing fainting spells over Paul's performance at the U of C, it's safe to expect he won't be saying anything more about "not changing any of the laws" before he's won the 2016 Republican nomination for president. What happens afterwards in the general election is another matter.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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