Ben Johnson


As pro-life groups endorse Romney, national players keep their distance

Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 13, 2012, ( – As some pro-life organizations begin to endorse Mitt Romney as the presumptive Republican nominee in the fall, other national conservative leaders say the next move is up to Romney. 

“As soon as Rick Santorum suspended his campaign, some conservatives were quick to endorse Mitt Romney. They got it exactly backwards,” said Richard Viguerie, longtime political activist and owner of ”Conservatives should not be rushing to embrace Romney; Romney should be rushing to embrace conservatives.” 

Much of the distance between the candidate and his party’s base came from Romney’s campaign, he said. Romney skipped three pro-life debates and refused to sign a pro-life pledge taken 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.

As the leader of the party, Romney must coalesce the party around himself, rather than expecting the party to hold its nose and vote for him, Viguerie has written.

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Since Santorum ended his primary fight, Romney has picked up endorsements from National Right to Life, the Susan B. Anthony List (which campaigned for Santorum during the primaries), and state governors and family organizations.

Most emphasized unity and inevitability.

“It is now time for pro-life Americans to unite behind Mitt Romney,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “On pro-life issues, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama provide a stark contrast.”

“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 on the general election. NARAL Pro-Choice America has already begun fundraising off the endorsement, branding SBA List members “anti-choice radicals” in an e-mail solicitation.

Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation Political Action Committee Director Maria Gallagher said, “For the sake of women’s health and safety, President Obama needs to be defeated in November.”

A press release from Ohio Right to Life Society Political Action Committee President Mike Gonidakis focused more on President Obama’s abortion stance than Romney’s. However, it 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.”

A number of Republican leaders who endorsed Romney also focused on the need to rally around the party’s standard bearer. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindahl 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.”

However, one of the most effective forces in the landslide 2010 midterm elections has said Romney may have to win on his own. Tea Party Nation leader Judson Phillips 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.”

Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer told 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.”

“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.”
Viguerie said 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.’”


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