Schneider said Giuliani modified his abortion views "ever so slightly," failed to note two flip-flops

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

CNN's Bill Schneider said that Rudy Giuliani "seems to be modifying his views ever so slightly," including on abortion rights. But Schneider did not mention Giuliani's recent shift on "partial-birth abortion" or his reported reversal on abortion rights in general in 1989.

CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider said that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) "seems to be modifying his views ever so slightly," pointing to a statement Giuliani made pledging to appoint what he called "strict constructionist" judges. But Schneider, reporting on the February 12 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, did not point to Giuliani's recent reversal on "partial-birth abortion." On the February 5 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Giuliani said, "If it has provision for the life of the mother, then I would support" a ban on "partial-birth abortion." But as Media Matters for America noted, Giuliani's explanation of his expression of support in 2000 for President Clinton's veto of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 1997 and his support for the current law banning "partial-birth abortion" -- that he supports a ban that includes a life-of-the-woman exception -- is not credible because both the current federal ban and several federal bills to ban the procedure proposed in 1997 through 2000 -- including the one vetoed in 1997 by Clinton -- included "an exception to save the mother's life." When asked about a "partial-birth abortion" ban in 2000, Giuliani said he "would vote to preserve the option for women." So, at the time, an exception to protect the life of the woman was not sufficient for him to support the ban. But now that he has filed a statement of candidacy indicating his interest in the GOP nomination, such an exception is apparently enough for the ban to earn his support. Blogger and media critic Greg Sargent has also documented Giuliani's reversal.

Moreover, Giuliani's switch on "partial-birth abortion" is reportedly not his first change of position on abortion rights. Schneider noted that Giuliani was "twice elected mayor of New York ... as a supporter of abortion rights, gay rights, and gun control," but did not note Giuliani's reported change during his losing mayoral bid in 1989. A February 22, 1989, Newsday article reported that leaders of New York's Conservative Party said Giuliani "assured them he was personally opposed to abortion, did not favor government funding or criminal penalties, did favor an exemption in cases of rape or incest, and was in favor of overturning the U.S. Supreme Court's decision legalizing abortion, Roe v. Wade." In an April 9, 1989, New York Times article, Giuliani was quoted as saying, ''I have indicated in the past that as a lawyer, and also for religious reasons, I would be opposed to Roe against Wade. ... That, however, is not something that would come before me as mayor.''

And after the U.S. Supreme Court's July 1989 Webster v. Reproductive Health Services abortion decision, Giuliani reportedly dodged questions about abortion regulation. A July 31, 1989, article in U.S. News & World Report said that Giuliani "has his own pass-off-the-hot-potato approach, arguing that governors control abortion restrictions more than mayors do -- a questionable assertion when it comes to the abortion policies in New York City hospitals." Following the Webster decision, Giuliani reportedly shifted his position to one favoring abortion rights. An October 13, 1989, New York Times article called Giuliani a "support[er of] the right of a woman to choose an abortion." Giuliani said he had "talk[ed] to [his] wife" about the issue following the Webster decision. An October 13, 1989, Associated Press article explained: "Once an outright opponent, [Giuliani] now says he supports abortion rights, and would not seek to reduce funds or services, even though he remains personally opposed."

A leaked 1993 "Rudolph W. Giuliani Vulnerability Study" acknowledged that Giuliani had changed his position on abortion rights. The 1993 "Vulnerability Study" was, as the New York Daily News reported, written by "two Giuliani advisers [who] wrote frankly about how parts of Giuliani's past could come back to haunt him -- from the 'weirdness factor' of his first marriage to his second cousin, to his draft history during the Vietnam War, to his work as assistant attorney general in Reagan's Justice Department." The study warned that Giuliani "is vulnerable on ... his flip-flops on various issues [and] the reversals of many of his major convictions." In its section on Giuliani's "anti-woman" reputation, the study added:

After the Webster decision, abortion became a cutting-edge issue -- and Giuliani started out on the wrong side of the blade.

By the time Giuliani got it right on abortion, it may have been too late to win back the women voters offended by Giuliani's earlier pro-life issue.

Now that Giuliani has been consistently pro-choice for at least four years, the abortion issue should not present the same degree of trouble it did in 1989.

Introducing Schneider's report, host Wolf Blitzer asked, "[A]re [former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt] Romney, Giuliani, and Senator John McCain [R-AZ] all moving to the right, right now?" However, the on-screen text read: "Running to the Right?: McCain & Romney," leaving out Giuliani.

From the 4 p.m. hour of the February 12 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: But are Romney, Giuliani and Senator John McCain all moving to the right, right now?

Let's turn to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider -- Bill.

SCHNEIDER: Wolf, tomorrow, Mitt Romney becomes the first of three leading Republicans to declare he's officially running for president.

Now, those three Republicans do have a lot in common.

[begin video clip]

SCHNEIDER: Polls show three candidates leading the Republican field: Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. All three are essentially Blue State Republicans who know how to win over Democrats and moderates. That's good, right? In a general election, it is.

But, first, they have to get through the Republican primaries. Giuliani was twice elected mayor of New York, the capital of Blue State America, as a supporter of abortion rights, gay rights, and gun control. Now he seems to be modifying his views ever so slightly.

GIULIANI: And I would appoint judges to the court that were strict constructionists.

SCHNEIDER: Some conservatives aren't buying it.

TONY PERKINS (Family Research Council president): I think Giuliani is unacceptable from the outset.

SCHNEIDER: Giuliani's response? Let's talk about the war on terror.

Posted In
Health Care, Reproductive Rights
Bill Schneider
The Situation Room
Rudy Giuliani, 2008 Elections
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