Video: Romney defends abortion rights in 2002

In theory, stuff like this shouldn’t hurt him. We all know he’s reversed course on abortion; I’ve even posted video of it in the past. But it does hurt him, I think, because it reminds people of how recent his “awakening” was. Until I saw this, I’d assumed he made the switch sometime in the late 90s or early 00s. Nuh uh; a little googling reveals that he didn’t embrace the social con within until 2005 or so, two years after he became governor and, coincidentally, around the time the murmurs started about him running for president.

Obviously Giuliani won’t touch this but I’ll be surprised if we don’t see a snippet pop up in McCain’s ads (and Hunter’s and Brownback’s ads, if anyone cares) and soon: St. John needs him out of the race so he can run to Rudy’s right. And while his record on abortion isn’t spotless either, he’s at least been voting the right way for years and, so far as I know, hasn’t got any soundbites as damning as this waiting to be used against him.

Mostly unrelated exit question: Is Rudy running for the right office? The still from the ad at the link is awfully compelling.

Update: Ruth Marcus says she interviewed Romney about abortion in early 2005.

I reprint so much of Romney’s answer (you can read or listen to the full exchange online) because its baroque circumlocutions seemed to say so much about him. It was hard to know what Romney actually thought about abortion rights other than that this was a political minefield it was best to avoid stepping into for as long as possible.

But it was also hard to see how a man with deeply held convictions on abortion rights — either for or against — could take a position so calibrated and inconclusive. Listening to Romney that day was like watching a chameleon in the fleeting moment that its color changes to suit its environment. Indeed, several months later, after vetoing a bill to expand access to emergency contraception, Romney wrote in the Boston Globe about how his views on the subject had “evolved and deepened.”