Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thompson is a weird pro-choice candidate

They found the smoking gun:

Billing records show that former Senator Fred Thompson spent nearly 20 hours working as a lobbyist on behalf of a group seeking to ease restrictive federal rules on abortion counseling in the 1990s, even though he recently said he did not recall doing any work for the organization.

According to records from Arent Fox, the law firm based in Washington where Mr. Thompson worked part-time from 1991 to 1994, he charged the organization, the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, about $5,000 for work he did in 1991 and 1992. The records show that Mr. Thompson, a probable Republican candidate for president in 2008, spent much of that time in telephone conferences with the president of the group, and on three occasions he reported lobbying administration officials on its behalf.
So, that's it then? Does that make him a pro-choice candidate now? Some, like this blogger, already think he is a pro-choice candidate and question why Evangelicals like Joe Cater would support him.
Now I'm being puzzled by a strange new phenomenon. Evangelicals and religious right types who have said they could never vote for Giuliani seem to be flocking to Fred Thompson. Joe Carter is among them, and I suspect the Family Research Council in general is with this movement from Mitt to Fred. There's a suggestion that James Dobson and Focus on the Family are part of it. There seem to be others, many of whom, including Richard Land, who are not willing to endorse just yet but who are whispering about what a good candidate he is or telling people behind the scenes that they will eventually support him. Blogs for Fred was started by evangelicals who want to prevent a Giuliani nomination, run by some prominent evangelical bloggers (Joe Carter, Jared Bridges, Andrew Jackson, and Josh Claybourn).

Yet Fred Thompson is very clearly pro-choice. He's likely a bit more moderate than Giuliani, who in turn is more moderate than any of the Democratic candidates. But Thompson seems to support abortion in the first trimester, even if he thinks the federal government shouldn't be limiting states from passing laws against abortion. He thinks the right policy, as Giuliani does, is for states to allow it, although Thompson would limit later abortions, while Giuliani would not. Both are judicial conservatives of a sort, and both are federalists of a sort. Both would appoint justices similar to the ones Bush did. The only difference is one that would manifest itself only at the state level, which a president wouldn't have anything to do with, and since most abortions are in the first trimester even the state difference wouldn't make an overwhelming difference anyway. On this issue, I think pro-lifers might prefer Thompson to Giuliani. So what? If the reason to oppose Giuliani is that he's too pro-choice, I can't see how Thompson should be less pro-choice enough to support him over the many candidates who are solidly pro-choice, including recent converts who are honest about their conversion to the pro-life view, unlike Fred Thompson, who has been pretending all along that he's pro-life and always has been.
If I were a pro-choice voter, I would find Thompson a very unattractive candidate. In the Senate his voting record was decidedly pro-life:
* Voted YES on maintaining ban on Military Base Abortions. (Jun 2000)
* Voted YES on banning partial birth abortions. (Oct 1999)
* Voted YES on banning human cloning. (Feb 1998)
And for a pro-choice candidate he has some decidedly pro-life positions.
He's promised to ban federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.
He's promised to appoint strict constructionist judges.
He considers Roe v. Woe bad law and bad science and believes that it should be overturned.
And I know of no other pro-choice candidate who is supported by the Nation Right to Life:
It appears that there is an attempt to create confusion regarding former Senator Fred Thompson’s pro-life position.
You can go to National Right to Life’s website [] to see Senator Thompson’s voting record against abortion, euthanasia, and experimentation on unborn babies’ bodies. As you can see, Senator Thompson had an excellent pro-life voting record while in the U.S. Senate.
I am concerned that someone may be misleading you about his record. Regardless, I assure you it was not from National Right to Life. National Right to Life PAC supported Senator Thompson for the U.S. Senate in 1994 and 1996, and considered him to be a very pro-life Senator.
Senator Thompson has since reaffirmed his pro-life position. I am attaching a link to the statement he made to the National Right to Life Convention, as well as what the pro-abortion group NARAL is sending to pro-abortion supporters about him.

Thank you for your interest and concern on this critical issue.

Karen Cross
Political Director
National Right to Life Committee
512 10th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004
Notice that they supported him after he was a lobbyist and still considered him a pro-life candidate.

I know of no other pro-choice candidate who would make a video to be played at the National Right to Life Conference.

All sarcasm aside, I think it's pretty clear that Thompson will be a pro-life president and make a wonderful advocate for the pro-life position. If he's stuck to the platform in the past, he will do so in the future. As to comparing him to Giuliani, that is just laughable. Giuliani, to my knowledge hasn't promised to continue to ban federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and he would not be endorsed by the National Right to Life. And he certainly would not be an advocate for life the way that Thompson would be. Giuliani struggled to find a way around supporting the recent ruling on the partial birth abortion ban, Thompson clearly was supportive of it. There is a world of difference between the candidates and it's too bad that there are some who can't see that.

Just because there is some question as to Thompson's commitment to life in the past, doesn't make his record and promises disappear. Those questions don't give anyone the right to call him pro-choice when his record clearly calls him pro-life. That I even have to say that is ridiculous.