While discussing potential candidates for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke mentioned Sen. John McCain's views on abortion rights, but did not note his apparently inconsistent statements. Neither Barnes nor Kondracke mentioned that McCain told reporters in 1999 that he would "not support repeal of Roe v. Wade" or that McCain later issued a "clarification" saying he "would work toward its repeal."
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On the November 25 edition of Fox News' The Beltway Boys, co-hosts Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke ignored Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) multiple positions on Roe v. Wade while discussing potential candidates for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Kondracke, who is also the executive editor of Roll Call, asserted that McCain's position of opposing gay marriage and "leav[ing] it to the states" was "consistent with his position on abortion ... which is, that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, then the issue of abortion should be left to the states." Barnes, also the executive editor of The Weekly Standard, labeled this position a "false consistency" because abortion "is a national issue," but neither he nor Kondracke mentioned McCain's apparently inconsistent statements on abortion. McCain previously said he would "not support repeal of Roe v. Wade" but later said he "would work toward its repeal."
As Media Matters for America noted, the Associated Press reported on August 24, 1999, that McCain had told reporters that "in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade." However, as Media Matters for America also documented, an August 25, 1999, San Francisco Chronicle article noted that "McCain's campaign released a clarification: 'I have always believed in the importance of the repeal of Roe vs. Wade, and as president, I would work toward its repeal.' " Further, when asked on the June 19, 2005, broadcast of NBC's Meet the Press if Roe v. Wade "was incorrectly decided," McCain replied that he believed it was incorrectly decided "to some degree." More recently, on the November 19 broadcast of ABC's This Week, McCain said "I believe that we would be better off by having Roe v. Wade returned to the states. And I don't believe the Supreme Court should be legislating in the way that they did on Roe v. Wade."
Additionally, neither Barnes nor Kondracke mentioned McCain's inconsistency on legal rights for gay couples. Kondracke said that Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and McCain "ought to be in favor of civil marriage, but they're not." As Media Matters noted, on the November 19 broadcast of This Week, McCain denied both that he was "for" civil unions and that he was "against" them. Host George Stephanopoulos specifically asked McCain: "Are you against civil unions for gay couples?" to which McCain responded: "No, I am not." Seconds later, however, Stephanopoulos asked: "So you're for civil unions?" to which McCain responded: "No." McCain said that he instead "believe[d] that people ought to be able to enter into contracts, exchange powers of attorney, other ways that people who have relationships can enter into."
Similarly, on the May 24 edition of CNN's Larry King Live, McCain said of civil unions: "I would respect the majority opinion of the people in Arizona. But a lot of times it depends on what do you mean by gay union? Does it mean that they're able to enter into certain contracts, people have a partnership? I think so. But to give it the status of heterosexual marriage is not something that I would support." McCain supported Arizona's Proposition 107, a constitutional amendment that provides that "no legal status for unmarried persons shall be created or recognized by this state or its political subdivisions that is similar to that of marriage." According to a November 8 Associated Press article, the amendment would have, in the words of the AP, "forbidden civil unions and domestic partnerships" for same-sex couples.
From the November 25 edition of Fox News' The Beltway Boys:
BARNES: Up: Mitt Romney. He's staking his ground against John McCain and [former New York City Mayor] Rudy Giuliani [R], positioning himself as the real conservative in the presidential race. McCain said on ABC last weekend that although he opposes gay marriage, the issue should be left to the states. Romney pounced, saying, "Look, if somebody says they're in favor of gay marriage, I respect that. If someone says -- like I do -- that I oppose same-sex marriage, I respect that view. But those who try and pretend to have it both ways, I find it to be disingenuous."
KONDRACKE: Well, it is a kind of a dodge on John McCain's part to --
BARNES: Very much a dodge.
KONDRACKE: -- to leave it to the states. Although it is consistent with his position on abortion, which is -- and your position on abortion -- which is, that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, then the issue of abortion should be left to the states. So, so, he is consistent on that point. But, but look --
BARNES: That's a false consistency, Mort.
KONDRACKE: Well, I don't know why it's a false consistency. Why is it false?
BARNES: Because we have some issues are decided by the federal government and some are decided by the states. I mean, do you want -- why have national civil rights laws? Let the states decide, huh? Of course not. We don't do that. This is one them that can only be decided -- it's a national issue. It can only be decided at the national debate.
KONDRACKE: The way it ought to be decided is that both of them ought to be in favor of civil marriage, but they're not.