Still, opening himself to questions presents some risks for Romney. He is sometimes prone to gaffes or straying off message when speaking off the cuff. Such a moment happened Tuesday in an interview with the Des Moines Register, in which he said regulating abortion would not be part of his legislative agenda if elected president.
“There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda,” he told the paper’s editorial board.
The Register reported that Romney “by executive order, not legislation,” would reinstate the so-called Mexico City policy that bans U.S. foreign aid dollars from being used to perform abortions. Obama ended the George W. Bush-era policy shortly after taking office.
On the campaign trail and during the Republican primaries, Romney said he is against legalized abortion.
At an Ohio campaign stop Wednesday, Romney told reporters, “I think I’ve said time and again, I’m a pro-life candidate. I’ll be a pro-life president. The actions I’ll take immediately are to remove funding for Planned Parenthood. It will not be part of my budget.”
Some social conservatives have been wary of Romney on the issue because of his previous support for legalized abortion. During a Massachusetts gubernatorial debate in 2002, Romney vowed, “I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose.”
As Massachusetts governor, Romney vetoed a bill that would provide access to emergency contraception to women. He declared himself “pro-life” in a Boston Globe opinion/editorial piece in 2005 and defended his conversion on the issue during a Republican presidential primary debate in November 2007.
Obama’s campaign on Wednesday seized upon Romney’s “legislation” remarks, accusing him of trying to hide his “extreme” views in the final weeks before the Nov. 6 election.
“We know the real Mitt Romney will say anything to win,” said Stephanie Cutter, Obama’s deputy campaign manager. “Voters shouldn’t be fooled. . . . Women simply cannot trust Mitt Romney.”