After repeatedly trying to pin Romney down on his stance on abortion, Wallace finally got this answer:
WALLACE: But you did say, as I said in the quote, women should have the right to make their own choice. I guess the question I have is are you saying that you only came to the conclusion about when life begins — this has been an issue for 30 years, 40 years — in the last three years?
ROMNEY: Chris, what I’m saying is that my position has evolved and it changed from where it was before. And I said — and the time of the change came as we were involved in the discussion of stem cell research, and I said at that point I am pro-life.
…Let’s be honest: It is going to be hard to sell his commitment to social values when he says his position on abortion has “evolved” since 2002.
But when it came to the issue of Romney’s Mormon faith, he did much better:
WALLACE: I want to ask you about another area of possible controversy and it involves something very personal, your religion. You are a Mormon. As you well know, a number of evangelicals say that could be a problem for you in Republican primaries because they say Mormonism is a cult. Your response.
ROMNEY: Well, I think people in this country want a person of faith to lead them as their governor, as their senator, as their president. I don’t think most people care what brand of faith they have. And I don’t believe that that’s been an issue for me in my race for governor. It wasn’t an issue, I believe, serious, for John Kennedy when he ran for president. People said oh, gosh, Ronald Reagan, he’s been an actor who’s been divorced, you can’t elect him. Those things, I think, get swept away as people get to know the individual, understand their character, their vision, their values, and I think that’s true regardless of a person’s faith if they are a faithful person…
From a political perspective, Romney parried the religious question well (frankly, if he didn’t have a good answer to this question, I would be very concerned.)
I especially liked the JFK reference.
And anyone who thinks FOX News throws softballs to Republicans should read the transcript.
On the other hand, Romney is fortunate to have been asked these hot-button issues sooner rather than later. After all, if he can’t answer these questions, he isn’t going to win, anyway.
On another note, today’s Boston Globe predicts Ann Romney will be a major asset to Mitt Romney’s campaign for president. (We’ve already discussed how political spouses can be an asset or a liability.)
…”Candidates’ wives have figured larger in presidential races as character and image have become increasingly important components of campaigns, said Julian Zelizer, professor of history at Boston University.”
It is plausible that if Ann Romney is as charming as they say, her very presence on the campaign trail might help answer the lingering questions Republicans still have about him.