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Maybe Now We Can Retire The Casey Myth

I’m relatively indifferent to Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) speaking at the Democratic National Convention, but given the historical parallels, I suspect w

I’m relatively indifferent to Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) speaking at the Democratic National Convention, but given the historical parallels, I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot of stories like this one.

ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Arnab Datta report: Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., an abortion rights opponent who endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. over Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY prior to the Pennsylvania primary, will address the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 26.

Casey’s father, the late Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey D-Pa., was denied a prime speaking spot at the 1992 convention because of his opposition to abortion rights.

The 1992 snub has become a symbol over the years of the Democratic Party making support for abortion rights a litmus test. In 2004, Republicans contrasted the Casey snub with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif., and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, R-NY., two Republicans who support abortion rights, speaking to their convention.

The decision to give Sen. Casey a featured speaking spot is part of a broader effort on the part of the Democrats to broaden the party’s appeal on abortion.

First, maybe Casey is getting a featured speaking spot at the convention to broaden Dems’ appeal on abortion, and maybe he’s getting a featured spot because he’s a young senator from a key battleground state who endorsed the party’s presidential nominee early on. ABC assumes it’s the prior, but it’s just as easy to believe the latter.

Second, Casey’s father was not “denied a prime speaking spot at the 1992 convention because of his opposition to abortion rights,” was not “snubbed,” and there’s been no “litmus test.”

This is a myth, that’s been repeated ad nauseum, but is nevertheless false and has been debunked many times. The truth is, Casey Sr. was denied a speaking spot because he refused to endorse the party’s nominee (Bill Clinton). At the same ‘92 convention, five governors, two senators, and a mayor — all of whom are pro-life — did get speaking spots, disproving the notion that there was a “litmus test.” (What’s more, pro-life speakers have been featured at every Democratic convention since.)

Nevertheless, if inviting Casey (Jr.) to speak this year helps bury the nonsense that reporters keep repeating, I’ll be thrilled.

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