- The Washington Times - Monday, January 23, 2006

Two of the candidates for House majority leader have been touting their commitment to pro-life issues to advance their campaigns against front-runner Rep. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican.

The camps of Reps. John Shadegg of Arizona and John A. Boehner of Ohio wrote to fellow Republicans last week, citing their strong records on abortion and other life issues.

Mr. Blunt spoke out on the topic yesterday, telling the Missouri and Illinois groups attending the March for Life that he is not only committed to protecting life from conception to natural death, but also has been part of a leadership team that helped deliver more pro-life legislation to the president than any Congress in history.

“I am proud of what we’ve accomplished,” he said. “I’m confident that we’ll be even closer to our goals this time next year.”

The other two candidates were vocal on the issue last week.

Mr. Boehner assured the conservative Values Action Team of House members last Tuesday that he thinks life begins at conception and shares their desire to protect the unborn and promote life.

“It is a commitment I have felt deeply throughout my life, and a commitment I will uphold unapologetically,” he wrote in the letter.

Two Shadegg supporters circulated a letter Friday reminding members that Mr. Shadegg was among a handful of Republicans who stood up to leaders in 2002 and voted against a Republican rule to bring the bankruptcy bill to the House floor because the legislation included a provision that angered the pro-life community.

“It is important to note that while the other two candidates for Majority Leader voted in favor of the rule, John Shadegg stood up under pressure and helped to defeat a bill that would have had terrible consequences for the pro-life movement,” wrote Reps. Mark Souder of Indiana and Jim Ryun of Kansas.

During his talk yesterday, Mr. Blunt pledged to continue his pro-life record as majority leader by working to send more pro-life bills to President Bush. These include a bill to ban human cloning, a proposal requiring abortionists to inform women that the unborn feel pain, and legislation to prevent people from circumventing existing parental consent and notification laws.

Mr. Shadegg also praised the March for Life yesterday, citing his pro-life record and noting that the Republican Party “supports life.”

Mr. Boehner’s office last week also released answers he had given to a questionnaire from the conservative Republican Study Committee, in which he promises that as majority leader he would, among other things, advance a bill to ban human cloning, a marriage protection amendment and the fetal pain proposal.

Conservative members and outside groups said social matters aren’t the defining issues among the three candidates, because all are viewed as solid conservatives. But the recent exchanges over their pro-life credentials show that social issues are bubbling under the surface.

Connie Mackey, vice president of government affairs at the Family Research Council, agreed that the candidates are strong conservatives but said, “I think we would do better with some than others on making the social issues part of a realistic and vibrant agenda.”

She wouldn’t name names because the group hasn’t publicly endorsed any candidate.

Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican, has endorsed Mr. Blunt, but he said all three have “100 percent pro-life voting records.” Still, he agreed that the topic is factoring into the race. “Someone’s intensity level on the life issue is something that I think many members are looking at,” he said.

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