Mitt Romney just made a fool of the press again. At 4:52PM on Tuesday, the Des Moines Register published an interview with Romney in which he said he had no plans to make any legislation restricting abortion. A scarce two hours later at 6:52PM, his campaign quietly issued yet another retraction.
Follow the Romney policy ball as it zig zags appeasements:
On February 29, 2012, Mitt Romney said he would appoint a Supreme Court Judge who would overturn Roe v Wade. Romney said, “I’m in favor of a pro-life policy. The legislation that relates to abortion which is something that is going to have to be approved by the Supreme Court and the key decisions I’ll take as the president will be number one, stopping funding for Planned Parenthood, re-instituting the Mexico City policy which says our funds can’t be used for abortion around the world and appointing justices to the Supreme Court that will follow the Constitution, hopefully reverse Roe v. Wade, and return to the states, the authority for making law with regards to abortion.” [WNWO (Toledo, OH), 2/29/12]
Then, Mitt Romney said in an interview published on Tuesday October 9th at 4:52 PM, “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.” [Des Moines Register Editorial Board interview, 10/9/12]
A mere two hours later, Mitt Romney’s spokesperson walked back Romney’s statement on abortion in a tweet to the National Journal’s Katrina Trinko at 6:52 PM: @KatrinaTrinko . @andreamsaul on Romney’s abortion comment to DMR: Rom “wld of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life” [Katrina Trinko, Twitter, 10/9/12]
At 10:25PM, Reuters published an article headlined, “Romney says won’t pursue new abortion laws.” See how that works? Romney is getting two very different messages to two very different constituencies and the press doesn’t seem to be aware of how they’re being used. Perhaps they gave up trying to catch the Real Mitt Romney and have resigned themselves to merely reporting what he said this time. The press’ failure to inform is certainly helpful for the Republican candidate.
The brilliance of being a serial liar about your policies is that today’s press and factcheckers will defend you from being called to account for either position, because you are also on record as supporting the opposite policy.
Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith issued a statement saying, “It’s troubling that Mitt Romney is so willing to play politics with such important issues. But we know the truth about where he stands on a woman’s right to choose – he’s said he’d be delighted to sign a bill banning all abortions, and called Roe v. Wade ‘one of the darkest moments in Supreme Court history’ while pledging to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn it. Women simply can’t trust him.”
Mitt Romney once again sold a moderate Mitt to the press and the public, and then hours later appeased his base by retracting everything he just said to the public. This is hardly his first go at this deliberate strategy of appeasement and deception; in fact, it’s becoming predictable that Romney walks back most of what is said in interviews and debates that reach a broad audience. The retractions do not reach nearly the same audience.
Romney is trying to trick voters into believing he’s a moderate and the press repeats his latest position as if it means something. Any bets on if they will catch on in time to actually inform the public?
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.