NRLC stands by Thompson sup­port; sees ‘electabil­ity’ in the South

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Ralph Z. Hallow

The Na­tional Right to Life Com­mit­tee’s sur­prise en­dorse­ment of Fred Thompson ear­lier this month was about electabil­ity, a board mem­ber of the na­tion’s largest pro-life lobby told The Wash­ing­ton Times.

“The main rea­son for the en­dorse­ment of Thompson was sim­ply electabil­ity and who can re­ally beat Hil­lary Clin­ton, pe­riod,” said Gregg R. Trude of the Mon­tana Right to Life Com­mit­tee. “The main thought was that Thompson can win the South and the other Repub­li­cans can’t.”

Many conser va­tives ex­pressed as­ton­ish­ment and con­dem­na­tion over the NRLC’s en­dorse­ment.

Free Congress Foun­da­tion Pres­i­dent Paul Weyrich, who backs for­mer Mas­sachusetts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney, told The Wash­ing­ton Times that he sus­pected that the Thompson cam­paign had bought the en­dorse­ment, say­ing there was no other log­i­cal ex­pla­na­tion for back­ing an op­po­nent of the Hu­man Life Amend­ment to ban abor­tion in all 50 states.

But Mr. Trude, who op­posed the Thompson en­dorse­ment, said, “Weyr ich is ab­so­lutely clue­less about his ac­cu­sa­tions of money ex­chang­ing hands from Thompson to the NRLC. I look at that as a slap in the face.

Mr. Trude at­tended the “spe­cially called” private meet­ing of the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee and 50-mem­ber board of the NRLC on Nov. 11 at the Hil­ton in Crys­tal City, Va.

Mr. Trude said the NRLC’s of­fi­cers “main con­cer n about Rom­ney is in the South, not in New Eng­land and the Mid­west. He has as good a chance in Illi­nois and Michi­gan as any­one else.”

But Arkansas Gov. Mike Huck­abee, an or­dained South­ern Bap­tist min­is­ter who is run­ning sec­ond to Mr. Rom­ney in Iowa polls, said his sur­prise over the NRLC Thompson en­dorse­ment “was noth­ing com­pared to the sur­prise of peo­ple across Amer­ica who had been faith­ful sup­port­ers of right to life.”

“Fred’s never had a 100 per- cent record on right to life in his Se­nate ca­reer,” Mr. Huck­abee said Nov. 18. “The records re- flect that. And he doesn’t sup­port the Hu­man Life Amend­ment, which is most amaz­ing be­cause that’s been a part of the Repub­li­can plat­for m since 1980.”

Mr. Trude said the NRLC top of­fi­cers ar­gued that they had in­ter­viewed Mr. Thompson and found him sin­cere in his profile con­vic­tions. The lead­ers fa­vor­ing Mr. Thompson in­cluded Pres­i­dent Wanda Franz, As­so­ci­ate Di­rec­tor Darla St. Martin, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor David O’Steen, and for­mer Pres­i­dent Jack Wil­lke.

The Mon­tana board mem­ber said the group’s lead­ers knew that Mr. Thompson was on the other side of the NRLC on two key is­sues when he was in Congress — by op­pos­ing the Hu­man Life Amend­ment and by sup­port­ing the cam­paign-fi­nance re­forms be­ing pushed by Sen. John McCain, Ari­zona Repub­li­can, which re­strict speech, ad­vo­cacy and spend­ing dur­ing fed­eral elec­tions.

Mr. Rom­ney has said he backs the Repub­li­can plat­form’s sup­port for a Hu­man Life Amend­ment and has op­posed the cam- paign-fi­nance bill.

Thompson spokesman Dar­rel Ng said the dif­fer­ences be­tween the two men on that de­tail were not great, be­cause Mr. Rom­ney “in the past said he would al­low in­di­vid­ual states to keep abor­tion le­gal. At best, he’s waf­fled on the is­sue.”

Mr. Trude doesn’t agree. “I be­lieve Rom­ney is pro-life and has sin­cerely changed from his past pro-choice po­si­tion. Peo­ple are al­lowed to grow.”

Mr. Thompson af­firmed Nov. 18 on ABC’s “This Week” his de­sire to see the Supreme Court over­turn its 1973 Rove v. Wade de­ci­sion and re­turn to states the power to de­cide on abor­tion’s le­gal­ity and reg­u­la­tion.

The for­mer sen­a­tor seemed to con­tra­dict ear­lier state­ments that mak­ing abor­tion il­le­gal in a state in­vites crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion of “young girls” and their par­ents. Abor­tion foes con­demned him for say­ing that, noted that nei­ther the mother nor her par­ents were pros­e­cuted when states could out­law abor­tion.

On Nov. 18, Mr. Thompson said such prose­cu­tions would not hap­pen and are not an is­sue.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Fred Thompson

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