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