I have been mystified by candidate Mitt Romney's walk in the Pro-Life movement. He claims at the young age of 58 to have been a convert to the Pro-Life cause. Yet I have not seen Romney do anything to further the cause than just espouse a few sentences here and there. Today, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Romney put out a Pro-Life statement but yet failed to show up at last week's Pro-Life Forum in South Carolina.
David Brody writes an excellent rebuke of Romney for his declining the invitation to speak at the Greenville, South Carolina Pro-Life event on January 18th. Some highlights from the rebuke:
“I understand that he’s concerned that candidates and folks in the audience will probably attack his past support for abortion rights but he’s changed now right? That’s what he keeps saying so you would think he would go to an event like this to prove it and shut everybody up. Wouldn’t he be proud of the fact that he went from pro-choice to pro-life? Isn’t that something to shout from the rooftops as a conservative? Instead, he ditches the event. This isn’t the first time he’s ducked a pro-life event and it won’t be the last.
By the way, believe it or not evangelicals can actually walk and chew gum at the same time. They can be pro-life and be fiscal conservatives. The two are not mutually exclusive.”
Yes, Romney also did not attend Mike Huckabee's screening of The Gift of Life film and forum on December 14th. The film highlights adults whose life resulted from biological mothers’ choices of life over death and how their lives have been a shining example of why more should do the same.
There were no gotcha question/answer sessions at this event. Each candidate was given an opportunity to share their Pro-Life message before the film was presented. Then the candidates sat with the audience and enjoyed the film. Was Romney afraid of having his speech taped at this Pro-Life event? Was he afraid that it would be used against him in the general election if he were to become the nominee?
What about the Value Voter Summit of 2010? How much time did Romney give to the Pro-Life cause in his speech to voters who emphasize life, family and God? In Romney's speech he only mentioned the value of life and marriage in passing and instead emphasized the economy: “If he (President Obama) or any of his economic advisers had any experience in the real economy, he would have known that the first three rules of any turnaround are focus, focus and focus.” Compare that sentence to the one sentence that Romney stated about Values: “This room is filled every year by citizens-modern patriots–who are passionate about America’s values .These values include the sanctity of life and the preservation of marriage.” That’s it. That is all he said to this Values Voter crowd who specifically came to hear the speakers talk about family, marriage, and the gift of life. Compare that to Mike Huckabee’s speech or Mike Pence’s speech. They linked moral values to fiscal values and showed how getting it right on the moral issues will lead to getting it right on the fiscal issues. But Romney only threw the crowd a one sentence bone: These values include the sanctity of life and the preservation of marriage.
In 2008, Romney tried to convince voters in Iowa, South Carolina and other Red states that he was all three legs of the Reagan Conservative stool. Voters did not buy his story as it had no history to back it up. Romney bowed out of the race after Super Tuesday so that he could fight another day.
Now he is again fighting for the votes from all three legs of the stool. Yet he fails to show up for events that represent the Social Conservative leg of that stool.
Romney may, in the end, win the Republican party’s nomination. But will those social conservatives-who tend to be the grassroots activists within the party, fight for him in the general? I would imagine that they will give to Romney the attention to detail that he gave to their cause. Romney, the PLINO will get ballots cast by Values Voters, but that is all he will get. A check of the box on election day.