The New York Times reports today that the "the Obama campaign and Democratic groups have run commercials relating to abortion about 30,000 times since July 2 — about 10 percent of their ads — including one that falsely claimed Mr. Romney’s opposition to abortion extended to cases of rape and incest."
Just today, the Obama campaign released another ad in Virginia repeating the false claim that Romney would ban all abortions:
The ad includes this exchange between Anderson Cooper and Mitt Romney from a 2007 debate:
Anderson Cooper: “If Roe v. Wade was overturned, Congress passed a federal ban on all abortions, and it came to your desk – would you sign it? ‘Yes’, or ‘no?’”
Mitt Romney: “Let me say it: I’d be delighted to sign that bill.”
But both before and after Romney makes this remark, he explains there isn't a national consensus on abortion, and he would like to see the issue returned to the states. The new Obama TV ad cuts out those clarifying remarks by Romney. Here's the full transcript from that 2007 debate:
QUESTIONER: Hello, my name is AJ. I'm from Millstone, New Jersey. I would all of the candidates to give an answer on this. If hypothetically, Roe v. Wade was overturned, and the Congress passed a federal ban on all abortions and it came to your desk, would you sign it? Yes or no?
COOPER: Mayor Giuliani?
GIULIANI: If Congress passed a ban on all abortions throughout the United States?
COOPER: If Roe v. Wade was overturned and Congress passed a federal ban on all abortions and it came to your desk, would you sign it, yes or no?
GIULIANI: I probably would not sign it. I would leave it to the states to make that decision.
I think that that -- the problem with Roe against Wade is that it took the decision away from the states. If Roe against Wade were overturned because it was poorly decided, if the justices decide that, it would them go back to the states, and it would seem to me that that would be the answer.
The answer is that each state would make a different decision. I don't believe, in the circumstance that you asked before, that it should be criminalized. I think that would be a mistake unless we're talking about partial birth abortion or late-term abortion.
I think you should have parental consent. I think we should have access to adoptions instead of abortion. But, ultimately, I think these decisions should be made on a state-by-state basis.
COOPER: Governor Romney?
ROMNEY: I agree with Senator Thompson, which is we should overturn Roe v. Wade and return these issues to the states.
ROMNEY: I would welcome a circumstance where there was such a consensus in this country that we said, we don't want to have abortion in this country at all, period. That would be wonderful. I'd be delighted.
COOPER: The question is: Would you sign that bill?
ROMNEY: Let me say it. I'd be delighted to sign that bill. But that's not where we are. That's not where America is today. Where America is is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states that authority. But if the Congress got there, we had that kind of consensus in that country, terrific.
FactCheck.org has been pointing out for months that Obama has been falsely claiming Romney would ban abortions in the cases of rape and incest:
In what appears to be the Romney campaign's first TV ad responding to Obama's 30,000 false abortion ads, a female narrator points out Romney does not oppose contraception and supports the usual exceptions for abortion. That's fine, but the Romney campaign is making a mistake by not also pointing out Obama's extreme positions in favor of taxpayer-funded abortions and late-term abortion on demand.
A Quinnipiac poll shows that 72 percent of voters oppose Obamacare's abortion funding, and a Gallup poll shows that 86 percent of Americans think late-term abortions should be illegal. Hitting Obama on abortion could also help Romney with working class voters in Ohio and other Midwestern states who are socially conservative but economically liberal:
The Pew Research Center calls these voters “Disaffecteds.” They are lower income, distrustful of corporations, want government to spend more on the poor, and don’t want to see changes to Medicare or Social Security. They are also socially conservative, religious, and distrustful of government. Disaffecteds voted for John McCain over Barack Obama by a 16-point margin in 2008, but voted for Republicans over Democrats by a 38-point margin in 2010. Running against Obamacare could help keep these Disaffecteds in the Republican fold in 2012.
And if Romney hopes to improve his margin among Latino voters, social issues are his best bet. According to a Pew poll from April of this year 75 percent of Latino voters support bigger government, while only 41 percent of the general population supports bigger government. But Latino voters are more strongly pro-life than the country as a whole. The issue played a role in one of the surprise congressional upsets in 2010--Republican Blake Farenthold's victory in a district that was 71 percent Hispanic:
Steve Ray, Farenthold’s pollster and consultant, told me that Ortiz’s vote for Obamacare’s final passage was particularly toxic. Before that, Ortiz had never taken a high profile vote in favor of abortion. Ray thinks that the issue moved a significant number of votes in the heavily Hispanic district that stretches along the Gulf coast from Corpus Christi to the Rio Grande. Strongly pro-life voters “will vote for someone who is pro-life even if they disagree with someone who is against them on every one else,” Ray said. “We actually had signs touting Blake’s pro-life position at the polls, and we heard people would walk out”—voters who couldn’t vote for a Republican but also couldn’t vote for a Democrat who didn’t oppose abortion.