JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer: A Republican organization that advocates gay rights is targeting GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in an ad campaign, seeking to undercut his support among social conservatives by highlighting his past statements in support of abortion rights.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, has spent months courting social conservatives in key primary states, trying to erase doubts about his previous moderate stands.
But in a 30-second television ad that will air in Iowa and on national cable, the Log Cabin Republicans use clips from a debate during Romney's unsuccessful 1994 campaign for U.S. Senate from Massachusetts to portray him as an enemy of religious conservatives.
"For years he's fought conservatives and religious extremists," an announcer declares.
On the screen, Romney, 13 years younger, is shown in the midst of a debate with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, whom he was seeking to unseat.
"I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country," Romney says. "I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years that we should sustain and support it."
Romney has said he changed his view on abortion after a November 2004 meeting with a Harvard stem cell researcher. He said he became convinced he could not be publicly supportive of abortion rights while being personally opposed to abortion.
"As Governor Romney has repeatedly made clear, like many other Republicans including Ronald Reagan, he wasn't always pro-life," Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said. "Governor Romney has said he was wrong and hopes he never stops learning from his mistakes or trying to do what's right."
Madden accused the Log Cabin Republicans of favoring Republican Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York who has supported abortion rights and some gay rights. Leading religious conservatives have voiced their opposition to Giuliani's candidacy.
LSB: A good move by the Romney spokesman to equate Romney's change of heart with Reagan - the base ought to eat that up. This infighting, tho, truly reflects that there is no successor that the Republicans can pin their hopes on: Rudy's out with the Religious Right; Romney's out with the gays (and the Religious Right); Thompson really hasn't caught fire with anyone (and he doesn't go to church, so he's out with the Religious Right); and McCain's an old nut job, flip-flopping on everything but his unending support of the war (and he has his own religious problems). To whom, then, will the Democrats lose? (And let's face it, unless the Dems find a backbone and pretty fast I won't be racing to the voting booth, and I'm guessing I won't be alone. Afterall, a Republican in the White House or a Dem without a backbone is the same thing - EXCEPT that with a Republican in the White House I can continue to blame the Republicans; with a spineless Dem in the White House I only have only myself to blame.)