As part of his post-Akin effort to emphasize that he doesn't hold extreme views that could alienate female voters, Mitt Romney said today in an interview with Scott Pelley of the CBS Evening News that his position on abortion has been "clear throughout this campaign. I'm in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother." Then in a classic Romney move, he made another comment that only creates more confusion about where exactly he stands. "Recognize this is the decision that will be made by the Supreme Court," says Romney. "The Democrats try and make this a political issue every four years, but this is a matter in the courts. It's been settled for some time in the courts." Democrats are definitely trying to use the issue against Republicans in this year's campaign, but there's another reason we're still talking about a fight that was settled in 1973: Pro-lifers never stopped working to overturn that Supreme Court decision, and the Republican Party's platform includes support for a constitutional amendment banning abortion.
Romney's support for allowing abortion in cases of rape, incest, and to protect the mother's life already puts him at odds with his running mate and the party platform, which mentions no such exceptions. However, in the past Romney has suggested that he doesn't consider the matter "settled" or solely "a matter in the courts." While being questioned about his stance on contraception in a January debate, Romney said:
In my view, Roe v. Wade was improperly decided. It was based upon that same principle. And in my view, if we had justices like Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Scalia, and more justices like that, they might well decide to return this issue to states as opposed to saying it’s in the federal Constitution.
And by the way, if the people say it should be in the federal Constitution, then instead of having unelected judges stuff it in there when it’s not there, we should allow the people to express their own views through amendment and add it to the Constitution.
The one thing that does clear up is the answer to Pelley's question, "Are you a candidate for the entire Republican Party?" Romney's trying to position himself as the guy everyone in the GOP can back, from the pro-lifers who believe ending abortion is our top priority to those who think the abortion debate is a distraction from the real issues in the campaign.