GOP presidential nomination frontrunner Mitt Romney, says he won’t sign a new pledge from the powerful pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, citing restrictive language in the pledge on hospital funding and the selection of Cabinet members.
Marilyn Musgrave, director of the SBA List’s “Votes Have Consequences” project, told The Washington Times Friday that their “pro-life leadership pledge” requires candidates to promise to appoint justices that will “not legislate from the bench” and tap pro-lifers to Cabinet positions.
Also, it asks them to end taxpayer funding for abortion-rights groups, such as Planned Parenthood, and to sign the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, proposed legislation that aims to protect the life of an unborn child as soon as they’re capable of feeling pain, except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger.
“We are saying to these potential nominees that we want you to lead on life and that these four things are the bare minimum of what we expect from you,” the former Colorado congresswoman told The Times.
The group rolled out the names of those who have signed the pledge Friday at Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. So far, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum have signed.
Noticeably missing from the list is Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. Mrs. Musgrave said that he’s been approached more than once “thus far, he has refused to” ink the pledge.
“We are hoping he will sign but at this point he has not done that,” she said, before making the case that most Americans tend to hold pro-life views and that “it would behoove anyone who wants to be the candidate for president of the Republican Party to be pro-life.”
The Romney campaign moved quickly to respond to the SBA announcement putting out a statement expressing support for the list — but explicitly choosing to stop short of signing the pledge.
“Governor Romney pledged in the last campaign that he would be a pro-life president and of course he pledges it today,” said Andrea Saul, Romney’s campaign spokesperson. “However, this well-intentioned effort has some potentially unforeseen consequences and he does not feel he could in good conscience sign it. Gov. Romney has been a strong supporter of the SBA List in the past and he looks forward to continue working with them to promote a culture of life.”
She later added, “the pledge calls for legislation to strip taxpayer funding from hospitals around the country, and strictly limits the choices a president would have to appoint Cabinet members.”
Businessman Herman Cain and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson have also not signed the pledge.
For years, voters have questioned Mr. Romney’s overall authenticity, thanks in part to his pivot from being pro-choice during his 1994 race against Sen. Ted Kennedy to his pro-life stance today. Mr. Romney said he changed his mind in 2004.
Others, however, have said that the economy will be the driving force in the coming election, thanks to the soaring national debt and high unemployment.
The Susan B. Anthony group spent $11 million during the 2010 midterm election cycle, where they saw 62 of the 90 candidates they supported emerge victorious, according to their website.
Here is the complete text of the pledge:
I PLEDGE that I will only support candidates for President who are committed to protecting Life. I demand that any candidate I support commit to these positions:
FIRST, to nominate to the U.S. federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, not legislating from the bench;
SECOND, to select only pro-life appointees for relevant Cabinet and Executive Branch positions, in particular the head of National Institutes of Health, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Health & Human Services;
THIRD, to advance pro-life legislation to permanently end all taxpayer funding of abortion in all domestic and international spending programs, and defund Planned Parenthood and all other contractors and recipients of federal funds with affiliates that perform or fund abortions;
FOURTH, advance and sign into law a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.