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On the April 4 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, while discussing her earlier interview with Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani, CNN congressional correspondent Dana Bash stated that the former New York City mayor "makes very clear that he is and always has been for abortion rights." She added that "he says his position since he has been mayor ... is the same and will be when he's president" and that "he will allow and use the levers of government, taxpayer funding, to allow abortion." But when Giuliani made those statements during the interview, which aired in its entirety on the 7 p.m. ET hour of the April 4 Situation Room, Bash did not challenge him, even though Giuliani has not "always been for abortion rights" and the position he articulated in favor of public funding for abortion appears to conflict with recent statements made by his campaign.
At the beginning of his losing 1989 mayoral campaign, Giuliani was a professed opponent of abortion rights, as well as of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision legalizing abortion. By the end of that campaign, however, Giuliani reportedly shifted his position to one favoring abortion rights, saying, according to the Associated Press, that "he supports abortion rights, and would not seek to reduce funds or services, even though he remains personally opposed." During his CNN interview, in response to a video Bash aired from a November 3, 1989, campaign event in which Giuliani called for public funding for abortion
"We cannot deny any woman the right to make her own decision about abortion because she lacks resources" -- Giuliani suggested that he holds the same position today, asserting that he would support "public funding" if its denial "would deprive someone of a constitutional right" to an abortion. However, his director of policy, spokesperson, and campaign aides have said -- before Bash's interview -- that Giuliani's position is that he would not change current law on abortion funding, which prohibits federal funding except in cases of incest, rape, or life endangerment.
As weblogger Greg Sargent noted, in a June 18, 1993, article, The New York Times reported that Giuliani campaign leaflets "said that he opposes restrictions to Federal Medicaid financing for abortions and opposes the Hyde Amendment, which is intended to deny support for that financing." But the National Review reported on March 1 that Giuliani director of policy Bill Simon, Jr. said, "I have an assurance that he is in favor of the Hyde amendment." On March 1, an anonymous Giuliani spokesperson "clarifi[ed]" Giuliani's position to the National Journal's The Hotline, asserting, "It's not a change of position. The Hyde Amendment is a current law and, as such, he respects it." The Hotline concluded that Giuliani's "agenda for governing does not include any changes to the law as it's currently enforced." Similarly, syndicated columnist and National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote on March 13 that Giuliani's "aides say he supports -- or wouldn't seek to change -- the Hyde amendment ... even though he once opposed it."
But Giuliani's purported "respect" for the Hyde amendment appears to conflict with his statement to Bash that he supports public funding of abortion, a conflict that Bash neither challenged him on nor reported. The portion of the interview focusing on abortion originally aired during the 4 p.m. ET hour of The Situation Room. After the interview aired on the 7 p.m. hour of the program, guest host Suzanne Malveaux added that the Giuliani campaign said "that the former mayor would not seek to make any changes to current law, which restricts federal funding to cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother." Malveaux also did not note that Giuliani's reassertion of support for public funding appears to conflict with the statement from his campaign.
Bash's assertion that Giuliani "is and always has been for abortion rights" echoes CNN host Larry King's inaccurate statement to Giuliani on the February 14 edition of CNN's Larry King Live: "I know you're pro-choice. You've always been pro-choice." As Media Matters for America noted, Giuliani began his 1989 mayoral campaign an opponent of Roe v. Wade and abortion rights. Indeed, a leaked 1993 "Rudolph W. Giuliani Vulnerability Study," an internal document from Giuliani's mayoral race, similarly acknowledged that Giuliani was inconsistent in his position on abortion rights in 1989. The 1993 "Vulnerability Study" stated: "Giuliani's lack of consistency on major issues, like abortion, also reinforced criticism that he would do anything to get himself elected."
From the 4 p.m. ET hour of the April 4 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
BASH [video clip]: So, you support taxpayer money or public funding for abortion in some cases?
GIULIANI [video clip]: If it would deprive someone of a constitutional right. Yes. I mean if that -- if that's the status of the law, then I would, yes.
MALVEAUX: Now, Dana, is that statement surprising coming from Giuliani, given all the concerns that the conservatives have about him?
BASH: Not surprising, but I'll tell you what it does. It sort of cements the idea that if Rudy Giuliani does, in fact, go on to be the Republican nominee for president, it is going to rewrite the rules of the Republican Party. Really, it would represent a generational shift in Republicans and how they pick their nominees.
Why? Because, really, since Ronald Reagan, Suzanne, there's been a litmus test on a couple of issues: taxes -- and Rudy Giuliani is in line with his party on that -- but also on abortion. And he makes very clear that he is and always has been for abortion rights.
But what he did here is he says that his position since he has been mayor is -- has -- is the same and will be when he's president.
And that is that he will allow and use the levers of government, taxpayer funding, to allow abortion. That is something that is not necessarily going to sit well with conservatives, especially in key early states like Iowa and South Carolina.
BASH: There's a woman out there who says, "I like Rudy Giuliani, because I think he's going to keep me safe. He's going to lower my taxes. He's going to get our -- a budget balanced, but I want to know, is he going to have the same position that he did as president that he did as mayor, which is to protect and defend my right to choose?"
What would President Giuliani say?
GIULIANI: Same position. I'm in the same position now that I was 12 years ago, when I ran for mayor, or as mayor, which is, personally opposed to abortion, don't like it, hate it, would advise that a woman have an adoption, rather than an abortion. I'll help you find the money for it.
But it's your choice. It's an individual right. You get to make that choice. And I don't think society should be putting you in jail for it.
BASH: And one of the things that you have said is that you will appoint strict constructionist judges.
GIULIANI: For a different reason, not necessarily that reason.
BASH: There's something on -- you know, on YouTube from 1989. It's flying around the Internet. It's a clip of you.
GIULIANI [video clip]: There must be public funding for abortions for poor women. We cannot deny any woman the right to make her own decision about abortion because she lacks resources.
I have also stated that I disagree with President Bush's veto last week of public funding for abortions.
BASH: Is that also your -- going to be your position as president?
GIULIANI: Probably. I mean, I have to re-examine all those issues and exactly what was at stake then. It is a long time ago. But, generally, though, that's my view. Abortion's wrong. Abortion shouldn't happen.
Personally, you should counsel people to that extent. When I was mayor, adoptions went up. Abortions went down.
BASH: So, you --
GIULIANI: But, ultimately, it's a constitutional right and, therefore, if it's a constitutional right, ultimately, even if you do it on a state-by-state basis, you have to make sure the people are protected.
BASH: So, you support taxpayer money or public funding for abortion in some cases?
GIULIANI: If it would deprive someone of a constitutional right, yes. I mean, if that's the status of the law, then I would, yes.
From the 7 p.m. ET hour of the April 4 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
GIULIANI [video clip]: But look at my public life. With all of those issues which may be different than others, may be the same as others, I've also had the most extensive career of any of the people running for office.
It's had great success. It's had some failures. Go look at that. Examine that. Examine the mistakes I've made there, and then the success that I had there, and that's the way I would do it. Everybody else has a right to do it some other way, but if I were making this choice, that's what I would look to.
MALVEAUX: And the Giuliani campaign noted that, after that interview, that the former mayor would not seek to make any changes to current law, which restricts federal funding to cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother.