This morning National Right to Life will announce its endorsement of Fred Thompson for president, which I reported yesterday and which is raising about as much blog and media curiosity as Pat Robertson's endorsement of Rudy Giuliani.
One bone of contention is Thompson's opposition to a human life amendment to the Constitution, which I said last week was a deal breaker for me (in the primary I should add, not if he makes it to the general).
(Thompson also opposed congressional intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, supported McCain-Feingold, and made NARALesque/Giulianiesque comments on Meet the Press of fear that making abortion illegal might see young girls sent to jail, which showed a serious lack of understanding of pre-Roe law.)
About the HLA, Ramesh Ponnuru on NRO blogged yesterday....
So is this the first time the NRLC has endorsed a presidential candidate who opposed a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution? (Romney supports it.)
On that, an NRLC insider emailed me yesterday:
Regarding the constitutional amendment, is it telling that the matter has not been on the NRLC candidate survey for who knows how long? Did anyone even notice when it was removed?...
[H]ow can we fault a national candidate for not holding a position that our own leadership has not determined to be important enough to gauge on their survey?
To be fair, that insider supported NRLC's endorsement of Thompson based on viability and that he's pro-life enough for our purposes during the next 8 years max, which is a solid point.
Jill, is it true that Fred Thompson as a lawyer took a case on behalf of Planned Parenthood?Posted by: Chris McNeil at November 13, 2007 8:54 AM
Actually, it wasn't Planned Parenthood he shilled for, but he did represent an abortion rights organization.
Group Says It Hired Fred Thompson in Abortion Rights Bid
By JO BECKER and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
Published: July 7, 2007
Former Senator Fred D. Thompson, who has positioned himself as an opponent of abortion rights as he prepares to run for president, was hired as a lobbyist 16 years ago by a group on the other side of the issue, according to documents and people involved with his hiring.
The group, the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, hired Mr. Thompson in 1991, three years before he was elected to the Senate from Tennessee, as part of the group’s effort to overturn a ban on federally financed family planning clinics giving women information about abortion, according to the group’s board minutes and former president. The association’s president at the time, Judith DeSarno, said she was looking for a Republican lobbyist who could help find a compromise at a time when the first President George Bush was opposed to lifting the ban, put in place during the Reagan administration. Mr. Thompson, then a lobbyist at a prominent Washington law firm, fit the bill, she said.
In the group’s board minutes of September 1991, Ms. DeSarno reported hiring Mr. Thompson to “aid us in discussions with the administration.” Ms. DeSarno, who provided the minutes, said in an interview that Mr. Thompson served as the group’s liaison to the White House.
A spokesman for Mr. Thompson said yesterday that Mr. Thompson had “no recollection of doing any work on behalf of this group.”
“He may have been consulted by one of the firm’s partners who represented this group in 1991,” the spokesman, Mark Corallo, said in a statement. “As any lawyer would know, such consultations take place within law firms every day.”
Mr. Thompson’s link to the group was first reported Friday by the Web site of The Los Angeles Times.
Any damage to Mr. Thompson’s credentials on the abortion issue could complicate his efforts to present himself as a faithful conservative. Mr. Thompson has sometimes indicated he supported some abortion rights although conservative groups say he voted with them whenever abortion questions came before the Senate.
Mr. Thompson’s record on the issue of abortion rights is being subjected to particular scrutiny because many social conservatives have been looking for alternatives to the current field of Republican presidential candidates. None of the leading candidates have aroused much enthusiasm among the religious traditionalists in the Republican base: Rudolph W. Giuliani supports abortion rights; Senator John McCain supports embryonic stem cell research and sometimes clashes with religious conservatives; and Mitt Romney has only recently adopted a position in opposition to abortion rights.
Spokesmen for Mr. Thompson have pointed to the fact that he voted in favor of every abortion restriction bill that came before him in the Senate. That included a ban on the procedure known as partial-birth abortion as well as a ban on government-financed abortion for defense department personnel. Mr. Thompson has said he opposed as an infringement on states’ rights the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion.
But Mr. Thompson has also sometimes indicated that he opposes outlawing abortion. Among other things, he has opposed a constitutional amendment banning all abortion — something the Republican platform calls for — again on the grounds that the issue should be up to the states.
In a questionnaire that he answered during his successful 1994 Senate campaign in Tennessee, Mr. Thompson or his campaign staff checked a box stating that he believed abortion should be legal under any circumstance during the first three months of a pregnancy. In a televised debate the same year, Mr. Thompson appeared to tell the moderator that he personally disagreed with outlawing abortion. “Should the government come in and criminalize let’s say a young girl and her parents and her doctor?” Mr. Thompson said. “I think not.”
In addition, the Gannett News Service has reported that another questionnaire submitted during Mr. Thompson’s 1994 campaign contained a handwritten note that stated: “I do not believe abortion should be criminalized. This battle will be won in the hearts and souls of the American people.”
Former Representative Michael Barnes, Democrat of Maryland, said he recommended Mr. Thompson to Ms. DeSarno, who worked for Mr. Barnes when he was in Congress.
At the time, Mr. Thompson and Mr. Barnes worked together at Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn. Ms. DeSarno said Mr. Thompson gave her regular updates by phone and that she met him on at least two occasions in person. Over dinner at the Washington restaurant Galileo one night, she said Mr. Thompson told her he had spoken with John Sununu, then the White House chief of staff, about the matter.
“Fred had a big smile and he said, how about if only the doctors can talk but not all these other nurses and volunteers,” Ms. DeSarno recalled, referring to a potential compromise on the ban. “It wasn’t formal. It was, ‘How about this?’ ”
Ellen Battistelli, who worked with Ms. DeSarno on getting the ban lifted, said: “He was certainly willing to contact the administration about this.” Mr. Sununu did not respond to messages left for him on Friday.Posted by: Laura at November 13, 2007 9:10 AM
Why is the NRLC so eager to believe Thompson's reassurances and not Romney's? I'd rather have someone who has had a genuine recent conversion than someone who has spoken out of both sides of his mouth for years. Thompson would rather leave it up to the states? Aren't there some acts that are so horrible that federalism isn't even evoked? Thompson's valuation of unborn children must be lower than that of born children. He would never say to leave it up to the states regarding making the killing of a born child a crime.Posted by: Carrie at November 13, 2007 10:37 AM
The current situation of states not being able to restrict abortion (except now, finally, in banning partial-birth abortion) is due to the so-called "constitutionality" of abortion as a result of the Roe v. Wade decision. Thompson is supportive of overturning Roe v. Wade. He understands the necessity in appointing judges who strictly interpret the Constitution. This is the only realistic hope of banning abortion.
This step MUST happen before we can even entertain the thought of an amendment to the Constitution. Think about it. How can we get enough support to amend the constitution (not an easy process) to ban abortions when we can't even succeed in electing enough senators in addition to a president who will appoint/approve judges who strictly interpret the Constitution? We can't even elect enough senators to prevent a filabuster!
I think it would be a big mistake to support a candidate who supports the Human Life Amendment when it is not a realistic solution AT THIS POINT IN TIME and who has less of a chance of winning the election. It makes much more sense to support a candidate who supports the only realistic approach to the end-goal AND who has a good chance of winning.
The reality is that a candidate who would be the most optimum for many pro-lifers isn't going to win in this political climate. If NRLC backed a candidate who has little chance of winning, we would ALL lose everything.
Geez, this isn't as if they are backing pro-abortion Giulianni. Fred Thompson has a 100% voting record! He is a friend to the pro-life cause.
Electability is definitely a big factor in this election. Think about who we might get if we lose, both in the primary and the general election.
I certainly understand wanting a candidate who supports a human life amendment, but it really doesn't enter into this election. Perhaps someday it will! So let's support a candidate who will help us remove that log jam caused by Roe v. Wade.Posted by: Ellie at November 13, 2007 11:54 AM
Ellie, you've made some good points! What do you think of the article that Laura posted?Posted by: Carrie at November 13, 2007 12:19 PM
I think the Thompson lobbying for an abortion group thing is no big deal nor indicative of his stance. It's not like he was out on the front lines supporting abortion rights ever. It was a hit piece trumped up years after the fact by pro-aborts trying to make Thompson look bad.Posted by: Lynn at November 13, 2007 12:39 PM
Romney does not support HLA either:
February 10, 2007
Q: You would favor a constitutional amendment banning abortion with exceptions for the life of the mother, rape and incest. Is that correct?
Romney: What I've indicated is that I am pro-life, and that my hope is that the Supreme Court will give to the states over time or give to the states soon or give to the states their own ability to make their own decisions with regard to their own abortion law.
Q: If a state wanted unlimited abortion?
Romney: The state would fall into restrictions that had been imposed at the federal level, so they couldn't be more expansive in abortion than currently exists under the law, but they could become more restrictive in abortion provisions. So states like Massachusetts could stay like they are if they so desire, and states that have a different view could take that course. And it would be up to the citizens of the individual states. My view is not to impose a single federal rule on the entire nation -- a one-size-fits-all approach -- but instead allow states to make their own decisions in this regard.
The most recent info coming from the Romney camp states the Romney supports a two-step strategy:First overturn Roe,then work on getting the HLA passed.(Soundpolitics.com).Posted by: Carrie at November 13, 2007 1:33 PM
Luis, meant to address my above post to you.Posted by: Carrie at November 13, 2007 1:35 PM
Carrie, I'm not sure what to think about the article. I can see how some could take it that he's not committed enough, but if those activities meant anything, wouldn't it have been reflected in his Senate votes? I haven't studied him too much at this point, but I think his voting record counts a lot.
Romney is a pro-abort who is trying to fool Christian conservatives into voting for him. And it seems the same can be said for Thompson.
I got the NRLC news and views in my e-mail today and they mentioned Thompson's support for parental notification laws which are pro-abortion laws and are evil because they end with "and then you can kill the baby."
That statement from Jill's source is telling. It shows that they would support a truly pro-life candidate like Alan Keyes IF HE WERE ONLY A "VIABLE" CANDIDATE.Posted by: Zeke13:19 at November 13, 2007 6:09 PM
You hate Ron Paul.
You hate Thompson.
You hate Giuliani.
You hate Hillary.
You hate Romney.
You hate Obama.
Posted by: mk
at November 13, 2007 7:02 PM
Who are you going to vote for?
I've made it pretty clear in my recent posts that I am voting for a truly pro-life, Godly candidate and that the name is ALAN KEYES
HTTP://WWW.ALANKEYES.COMPosted by: Zeke13:19 at November 13, 2007 7:33 PM
Ahhhhhhh...thank you. I hadn't seen that before, and I was afraid we were gonna run out of candidates...
So, why Keyes?Posted by: mk at November 13, 2007 7:35 PM
Zeke, vote for Ron Paul or Fred Thompson, since they were in 'My Favorite Martian' and "Law and Order."Posted by: Doug at November 13, 2007 8:57 PM
I agree you guys should consider Alan Keyes. Abortion has been his signature issue for years.Posted by: SoMG at November 13, 2007 10:13 PM
The problem with Ron Paul is he has said he doesn't want to run as a third-party candidate in the general election and he's not the sort to change his mind about that kind of thing.Posted by: SoMG at November 13, 2007 10:21 PM
Besides, Alan Keyes is a trained opera singer.Posted by: SoMG at November 14, 2007 4:52 AM
Alan Keyes is the guy that Barack most wants to face - he totally crushed him in the past.Posted by: Doug at November 14, 2007 10:08 PM
Go check out the wonderful new movie Bella, in theatres this weekend! It's an edifying story of the unmitigated value and dignity of human life.Posted by: Virginia Bain Allen at November 15, 2007 9:25 AM
If the Republican platform includes a human life amendment and Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson don't support a human life amendment then they are not part of the Republican Party and can't be considered as Republican nominees for president.
Right?Posted by: zeke13:19 at November 16, 2007 6:31 PM
If the Republican platform includes a human life amendment
Zeke, does it really include that, though?Posted by: Doug at November 17, 2007 11:48 AM