Co-authored with John Jalsevac
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 13, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – With Rick Santorum having bowed out of the Republican presidential race, several major pro-life organizations have stepped forward to throw their weight behind Mitt Romney, while some other conservative groups have urged a “wait-and-see” approach to the likely nominee.
Since Santorum ended his primary fight, Romney has picked up endorsements from the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the Susan B. Anthony List (which campaigned for Santorum during the primaries), and various state governors and pro-life and pro-family organizations and individuals, including a leading pro-life organization in Romney’s own state.
“It is now time for pro-life Americans to unite behind Mitt Romney,” said Carol Tobias, president of NRLC. “On pro-life issues, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama provide a stark contrast.”
In a statement endorsing Romney, NRLC said, “Mitt Romney has taken a strong pro-life position and is committed to implementing policies to protect the unborn, the medically dependent and disabled, and the elderly.”
“Now is the time to unite behind Governor Romney in order to defeat the most ideologically pro-abortion president in our nation’s history,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “It is the responsibility of all pro-life voters to now unite behind Governor Romney,” agreed Jane Abraham, Chairman of the SBA List Board of Directors.
The SBA List committed to spending $10-12 million in support of Romney on the general election.
A press release from Ohio Right to Life Society Political Action Committee President Mike Gonidakis noted, “Governor Romney is committed to protecting pro-life values. He supports the Hyde Amendment and ending federal funding for the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. He is committed to upholding the sanctity of life and opposes the killing of human beings in the name of ‘science.’ Most importantly, he believes that Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overturned.”
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A number of Republican leaders who endorsed Romney also focused on the need to rally around the party’s standard bearer. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said, “It’s time for all Republicans to focus their energies on the fall campaign.” Florida Governor Rick Scott stated, “Mitt Romney will be our party’s nominee and it is critical that all Republicans coalesce behind Gov. Romney and focus on electing him as president.”
At the same time, some conservative leaders are urging caution with regard to Romney’s nomination, arguing that the presumed nominee – who famously underwent a conversion to the pro-life position - has alienated social conservatives in the past as well as during the primary race.
Richard Viguerie, longtime political activist and owner of ConservativeHQ.com, said that “conservatives should not be rushing to embrace Romney; Romney should be rushing to embrace conservatives.”
Pro-life critics of Romney, including Viguerie, have taken issue with the fact that he skipped three pro-life debates and refused to sign a pro-life pledge signed by every other candidate except Jon Huntsman. “In fact, during the campaign, Mitt Romney sent every signal possible he wanted to get the nomination without owing conservatives or the Tea Party anything,” Viguerie said.
Tea Party Nation leader Judson Phillips has said bluntly, “The Tea Party is not going to coalesce around Romney. Most of us will vote for Romney, but we will not be out there with signs for him or in his campaign.”
“Romney has a huge problem with the conservative base of the GOP,” Phillips told The Daily Caller. “He had better do something about that ASAP or he won’t have to worry about that moving to the middle nonsense.”
Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer told LifeSiteNews.com on Thursday, “These people provide the passion and hard work that are key to GOP election success. It is almost impossible to win without them. Just ask John McCain.”
Viguerie argued that pro-life, pro-family conservatives should imitate Rick Santorum, who “suspended his campaign without endorsing Mitt Romney. Like Rick, many other conservative activists and leaders are sitting on the sidelines waiting for some concrete actions from Romney to prove that he actually wants conservative support.”
Viguerie wrote, “My advice to my fellow conservatives is, ‘don’t be cheap dates.’”
At the same time, other leaders have argued that whatever reservations pro-lifers might have about Romney, it is important that they coalesce behind him in a bid to oust Barack Obama – widely considered to be the most radically pro-abortion president in history.
Others brushed aside questions about the sincerity of Romney’s much-debated pro-life conversation, arguing that he has adequately proved his pro-life credentials.
One prominent defender of Romney in this regard is a major pro-life organization in the candidate’s home state, the Massachusetts Citizens for Life Political Action Committee (MCFL).
“As the country’s most pro-abortion president, Barack Obama has pursued a radical pro-abortion agenda,” the organization said in its endorsement of Romney. “In contrast, as governor, Mitt Romney worked closely with MCFL. He takes a strong pro-life position and is committed to implementing policies to protect the unborn, the medically dependent, the disabled, and the elderly.”
In her endorsement popular pro-life blogger Jill Stanek argued that pro-lifers who have reservations about Romney should put them behind them. “I have a soft spot for pro-life converts, which Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is,” she said. “I think pro-lifers could do a better job of supporting them. I think it is time for that to happen for some of us who have been reluctant about Romney. The fact that he used to be pro-abortion is the major hang-up.”
In her endorsement Stanek also quoted an e-mail from pro-life leader Eric Scheidler, who, writing in a private capacity, said: “Now that Santorum is out, it’s this man’s opinion we all need to cowboy up and help Romney beat Obama.
“And that starts, now, with avoiding all disparaging remarks about ‘holding one’s nose’ and the like, which I’ve been seeing on Facebook these last few hours. From now on, I’m nothing but thrilled I’ve got a good man to rally behind, and I’ll leave it to Team Obama to make Romney look like anything less.”