The Washington Times - October 11, 2012, 08:31AM

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus defended GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney as pro-life in a lively exchange with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien on Thursday morning during a discussion about remarks Mr. Romney made to the Des Moines Register saying that there would be no specific abortion legislation that would be part of his presidential agenda.

“When you get into these discussions, you know, [they’re] not the type of thing that you can do in 30 seconds,” Mr. Priebus said on CNN’s “Starting Point.” “But the fact of the matter is that [Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan] are pro-life, there’s no doubt about about and … I see the flap over this Des Moines Register question, but I don’t see … there’s nothing there there.”

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A Romney spokeswoman issued a statement after the interview that said Mr. Romney would “of course” support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life. Footage of Mr. Romney saying that he would be a “pro-life president” and take actions immediately to defund Planned Parenthood then was aired.

Miss O’Brien said that sounded “completely contradictory to me. How is it not?”

“The fact of the matter is that what he’s referring to is whether or not there are piles of legislation in the Congress, what specific bills in the Congress in regard to abortion that you are going to be pushing over the next four years,” Mr. Priebus said, saying that Mr. Romney has been “absolutely, 100 percent consistent on this issue.”

Miss O’Brien pressed Mr. Priebus on the issue, asking him to “explain to me how it’s not a contradiction” if Mr. Romney was going to include an item in his budget saying that there will not be taxpayer money used for abortions through Planned Parenthood.

“He’s talking about bills in Congress as they’re sitting there today: ‘What are you going to, as it sits in Congress today, be pushing in regard to abortion legislation?’” Mr. Priebus said. “Soledad, I wish you would be as passionate about taking Barack Obama to task for every one of his promises and for every one of his changes that he didn’t follow through on over the last four years …”

“Which we do all the time,” Miss O’Brien interjected.

“As opposed to this,” Mr. Priebus said.

“Trust me — I will send you the tweets from people who hate me on the Republican side and hate me on the Democratic side,” Miss O’Brien said.

“I don’t hate you,” Mr. Priebus said.

“I don’t mean you,” Miss O’Brien replied with a smile. “I know you love me. But I got to tell you — we’re going to ask tough questions of everybody, no matter what side they’re on.”