We can now add Gov. Transvaginal Ultrasound Bob McDonnell to the list of Republicans who are trying to pretend like there's some wiggle room in their extremist anti-abortion platform they just passed this week, which has no exceptions for rape or incest. If Republicans had wanted those exceptions, they'd be in the platform, period. They're not, but the personhood language is.
McDonnell and Blackburn and Priebus can tell the voters otherwise until they're blue in the face, but it's not going to change the fact that their party's platform is way to the right of where most Americans and even most Republicans are on the issue of abortion.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, chairman of the Republican Party's platform committee, said that the party's platform affirms their opposition to abortion and does not address the issue of exemptions in an interview on ABC's "This Week."
"George, you're just reading it wrong," McDonnell said to host George Stephanopoulos, who said he doesn't see an exception in the abortion plank. "That's been there for 30 years. There are multiple human life amendments that were introduced 20, 30 years ago. Some of them had exceptions, some of them didn't."
McDonnell reiterated his point: "The party didn't make any judgment on that. It's a general proposition to say we support human life. The rest of those details are up to the states and the people respectively, George, and that's simply not covered. It's something up to Congress and the states."
McDonnell's position is in line with how the RNC has been explaining their platform after it received a lot of attention this week in the wake of the Todd Akin controversy.
Full transcript below the fold.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You also got a big surprise this morning from another independent, the former Republican governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, in the Tampa Bay Times this morning endorsing President Obama for reelection. He had some kind words for President Obama, but also some tough words for the Republican Party. I want to read some of them right now. He says, "an element of their party has pitched so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they've proven incapable of governing for the people. Look no further than the inclusion of the Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion even for rape victims." Of course, he's referring to Congressman Todd Akin, your Senate candidate from Missouri right now.
You're the chair of the Platform Committee, you've called it the heart and soul of the Republican Party. So how do you respond to former Governor Crist?
MCDONNELL: I would say that Governor Crist's endorsement adds one more vote in Florida, and that's it. He is wrong on every other point. I don't think it's any surprise that the Republican Party is the party that embraces the dignity and sanctity of life. We're a pro-life party. The Democrats are pro-choice. But I'll tell you, that's so far field. He's wrong on the platform.
And really, what matters in this race, George, as everybody knows, is how we're going to get the greatest country on earth back to work and out of debt. And you look at Mitt Romney's record on reducing unemployment in Massachusetts. President Obama has increased it. Getting a budget balanced. The president can't even get a budget passed. And the downgrading of the U.S. credit rating under President Obama's watch. The credit rating of Massachusetts went up.
So on the things that really matter to voters, George, I think the records are stark, and I think that's why independent voters have a ten-point margin in favor of Mitt Romney right now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to get Mayor Villaraigosa to respond, but first you said something, you said he was wrong on the Republican platform. And I'm not sure how he is wrong. Let's put up the platform right now. It talks about asserting the sanctity of human life, affirming that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment's protections apply to unborn children. There is no exception there in the abortion plank for rape. Even though I know that's Governor's Romney's position, did he try to include that in the platform, and why are there no exceptions in the platform?
MCDONNELL: George, you're just reading it wrong. That's been there for 30 years. There are multiple human life amendments that were introduced 20, 30 years ago. Some of them had exceptions, some of them didn't.
The real point is, we are affirming that we're a pro-life party. The details certainly are left to Congress and ultimately to the states and the people on how they ratify such an amendment, or more importantly, what they do at the state level.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So is the party my for a rape exception or not?
MCDONNELL: The party didn't make any judgment on that. It's a general proposition to say we support human life. The rest of those details are up to the states and the people respectively, George, and that's simply not covered. It's something up to Congress and the states. We have laws in Virginia that have some of those exceptions. But at this point, with the U.S. Supreme Court having its say, these are not issues that are even -- even material at this point. Because, the issues are whether or not we have, like a ban on partial birth abortion. The president opposes that. Mitt Romney supports it. It's whether we have a born alive act. The president is opposed to that. Mitt Romney supports it.
So those are the issues, the policy issues, George, at this point that are really relevant. And honestly, here is the last thing. This is one more attempt by the Obama administration to take the focus off jobs, the economy, taxes, spending, debt and energy. That's what the people of America care about.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Lot to respond to, Mayor. Take a crack.
VILLARAIGOSA: First of all, let me say that our hearts and prayers are with the people of Tampa and Florida, and the delegates at the convention, and we hope that the storm isn't going to be as difficult as it looks right now.
And with respect to the plank, I think Governor Crist said it very well, and that is that it is what it is. And maybe it's been there for 30 years. But it's time to take it out. The idea that we put in our U.S. Constitution an amendment that says that women can't get an abortion even in the case of incest and rape is way beyond the mainstream. The fact that they--
STEPHANOPOULOS: You heard him say it's not what it does, according to him.
VILLARAIGOSA: Well, that's what they say. You put it up there, not me. And the fact.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Go ahead.
VILLARAIGOSA: Well, look, it's not just Mr. Akin's remarks, it's the Republican Party, whose platform, who through all the primary season focused on these kinds of issues, on the issue of contraception, which I thought had been dealt with 50 years ago. Across the board, and Governor Crist talked about Latinos as well and immigration. Whether it's the self-deportation of 11 million people -- no country has ever done that, George. Calling the DREAM Act a handout, walking around with Kris Kobach and calling the Arizona and Alabama laws a model for the nation. These are things that are just way beyond where most voters are at.
And in fact, when the governor said that the -- Mr. Romney's leading with independent voters, that's just not true.