DENVER — Looking for a way to slow Mitt Romney’s sudden momentum, President Obama’s campaign Wednesday looked to focus attention on Romney’s comments Tuesday about abortion in an effort to paint the GOP nominee as a flip-flopper whose election could threaten women’s rights to abortion and free contraception.
“The American women will not be fooled by a Mitt Romney who is trying to be everything to everyone at the end of this election,” said Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette, D-Denver, on a conference call Wednesday organized by the Obama campaign.
“Throughout this campaign, Mitt who describes himself as ‘severely conservative’, has come out and said he opposes all abortion and supports Personhood amendments,” DeGette continued. “Suddenly, in October, Mitt Romney says he knows of no legislation that would restrict abortion.
“We had nine pieces that would restrict a women’s right just last year. If those passed the House and the Senate and were sent on to a President Romney, we know he would sign them.”
On Tuesday night, in an interview with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register in Iowa, Romney appeared to adjust or, at least, blur his position on abortion and the issue of whether he agrees with President Obama’s mandate that forces insurers to cover the cost of birth control.
Romney, who said during the GOP primaries that he’d “get rid of” Planned Parenthood, told the newspaper that he has no plan to push for legislation that would restrict abortion.
“There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda,” Romney told the Register.
Within a couple of hours, Romney’s campaign walked the comments back, with campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul telling the National Review Online’s Katrina Trinko that Romney “would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life.”
Romney and his running-mate, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, both oppose abortion, but Romney supports some exceptions while Ryan does not.
Romney, however, said he’d appoint justices to the Supreme Court with the hope that they would help to eventually overturn Roe vs. Wade.
In the same interview, Romney tried to deflect a question about whether he still opposes the Obamacare mandate that forces healthcare providers to cover the cost of birth control.
Romney told the Register that people are free to buy policies that cover contraception “if they choose,” comparing it to the choice of buying a new car.
“It’s a question as to, should you get a car painted, you know, red or blue,” Romney said. “I mean you can decide which you’d like. People who want to have contraceptive health insurance can choose that in their policy. Those that don’t have — that choose not to can buy a policy with or without. It depends on the kind of policy you buy of course.”
That answer, of course, ducked the question of whether Romney supports the tenet of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that forces employers to pay for plans that cover their employees’ contraception, except when those employers have a religious exception.
Earlier this year, Romney strongly criticized the mandate as “an assault on religious freedom”; at the time, he also supported Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt’s controversial amendment that would have allowed any employer to refuse to cover birth control for any moral reason, expanding employers’ ability to opt out.
“We’ve seen over and over again that Mitt Romney will say anything to get elected,” said Toni Panetta of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, who also took part in the Obama campaign’s conference call Wednesday. “Mitt Romney, clearly, is willing to mislead women about their right to free contraception and their right to make their own decisions about their own healthcare.”