The anti-Romney oppo machine went off the tracks today. Some in the blogosphere seized upon an answer Mitt Romney gave in an Ohio radio interview that he did not support the Blunt-Rubio bill to protect religious employers from the Obamacare mandate on contraception. Apparently no one bothered to get comment from the campaign or get the full transcript before dashing off to accuse Romney of selling out the social conservatives. Here is the transcript excerpt:
HEATH: He’s brought contraception into this campaign. The issue of birth control, contraception, Blunt-Rubio is being debated, I believe, later this week. It deals with banning or allowing employers to ban providing female contraception. Have you taken a position on it? He (Santorum) said he was for that, we’ll talk about personhood in a second; but he’s for that, have you taken a position?
ROMNEY: I’m not for the bill, but look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a women, husband and wife, I’m not going there.
HEATH: Surprised that he went there?
ROMNEY: You know, I made it very clear when I was being interviewed by George Stephanopoulos in a debate a while ago: Contraception is working just fine, let’s just leave it alone.
HEATH: And the Personhood Amendment could potentially be on the ballot in Ohio this fall. What’s your position on this effort, Personhood?
ROMNEY: Well it’s interpreted differently by different states, so I’d have to look at the particular provision. We had a provision in my state that said that life began at conception, that’s a provision that I protected. The legislature passed a bill saying that no longer would life be determined to begin at conception, I vetoed that. So we can have a provision that describes life beginning when it in fact begins. At the same time, allowing people to have contraceptives.
It’s obvious Romney breezed by the reference to the “Blunt bill” to go after Rick Santorum for his anti-contraception fixation. A Romney spokeswoman had this reaction: “Regarding the Blunt bill, the way the question was asked was confusing. Governor Romney supports the Blunt Bill because he believes in a conscience exemption in health care for religious institutions and people of faith.”
Should Romney have listened more carefully to the convoluted question before answering? Sure. But really, it’s going to be a frustrating campaign for the left-Santorum alliance if its proponents think they can snip out phrases like letters for a ransom note. The New Media make it all too easy to debunk such tactics.
UPDATE (7:09 p.m.): The Romney team has now sent around this radio clip in which Romney explains his earlier remarks.