Newt Gingrich is out with his first ad attacking Mitt Romney in South Carolina, and it’s a doozy — targeting the former Massachusetts governor’s record on abortion rights.
The former House speaker has repeatedly denounced negative ads, but in recent days he has declared his intention to draw “contrast” with Romney.
Whatever Gingrich wants to call it, this is a negative ad.
“What happened after Massachusetts moderate Mitt Romney changed his position from pro-abortion to pro-life?” a female narrator asks as a picture of an unhappy-looking Romney fills the screen and spooky music plays. “He governed pro-abortion.”
She continues: “Romney appointed a pro-abortion judge, expanded access to abortion pills, put Planned Parenthood on a state medical board but failed to put a pro-life group on the same board. And Romney signed government-mandated health care with taxpayer-funded abortions. Massachusetts moderate Mitt Romney: He can’t be trusted.”
Romney’s conversion from supporting to opposing abortion rights is well-known; some of the details in this ad could use a little context.
In 2005, Romney actually vetoed a bill expanding access to emergency contraception (what Gingrich calls “abortion pills,”) despite overwhelming support from the legislature. The legislature overrode his veto. However, once the law took effect Romney announced that Catholic and other private hospitals were not exempt from dispensing emergency contraception to rape victims. And in a 2002 Planned Parenthood questionnaire, Romney expressed support for emergency contraception.
Romney did appoint Matthew Nestor, a Democrat who supported abortion rights, to a lifetime post on the Somerville District Court. However, district court judges deal mostly with civil and criminal disputes, not constitutional issues.
The universal health-insurance law Romney signed in Massachusetts did include taxpayer funding for abortion, but a state Supreme Court ruling mandated that abortion be included. The health-care law also mandated that the 14-member MassHealth Payment Policy Advisory Board include one member appointed by Planned Parenthood.
A recent ad from the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future mischaracterized Gingrich’s abortion record; Factchecker Glenn Kessler called the abortion portion “so underhanded that it really discredits the entire ad.”
Gingrich has bought $148,808 of air time in South Carolina this week, according to a Republican media buyer.