MSNBC's Witt referred to "pro-abortion" candidate Giuliani

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

On MSNBC Live, Alex Witt referred to Rudy Giuliani as "a pro-abortion candidate." In fact, one can support legal access to abortion procedures and support trying to decrease the number of abortions. Moreover, Giuliani has wavered on the desirability of the Supreme Court's overturning Roe v. Wade.

On the October 4 edition of MSNBC Live, discussing a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which found that Republican primary voters said GOP presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani has "the best chance of defeating [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY] in the general election," host Alex Witt stated that religious conservatives are "threatening ... to consider backing a third party even if the GOP nominates a pro-abortion candidate like Rudy Giuliani." In fact, one can support legal access to abortion procedures and support trying to decrease the number of abortions -- a position Giuliani, and several other public officials who support abortion rights, have espoused, as Media Matters for America has previously noted.

But the reference to Giuliani as "pro-abortion" is misleading in another respect, beyond the inaccurate characterization of those favoring abortion rights; he has vacillated on the issue at various points in his career as a public official, and this year alone, has wavered on the desirability of the Supreme Court's overturning Roe v. Wade. As Media Matters has documented, on the February 5 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity asked Giuliani, "Where does Rudy Giuliani stand on abortion?" Giuliani responded by saying that he "believe[s] in a woman's right to choose," but then encouraged "conservatives" to find similarities in "the way we think," specifically on "the appointment of judges." When asked about Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who has stated that he would overrule Roe, Giuliani replied that he is "somebody I consider to be a really great judge. ... I do think you have sort of a general philosophical approach that you want from a justice, and I think a strict constructionist would be probably the way I'd describe it." Additionally, during a May 3 Republican presidential debate, Giuliani said that "[i]t would be OK to repeal" Roe, but that "[i]t would be also if a strict constructionist judge viewed it as precedent."

Introducing a report about Giuliani's then-upcoming speech at Houston Baptist University by National Public Radio national political correspondent Mara Liasson on the May 10 edition of NPR's All Things Considered, co-host Robert Siegel stated: "Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is the only one of the Republican presidential candidates who supports abortion rights. Recently, his answers to questions about abortion, such as in last week's debate, have caused some confusion. NPR's Mara Liasson reported that Giuliani would be making an effort to clarify his position, if not change the topic all together." Liasson then reported: "Tomorrow, Giuliani will speak at Houston Baptist University, where, his aides say, he will reiterate his support for abortion rights, and say that, although there are disagreements about the issue, all sides should respect each other. Although Giuliani has never hidden his support for abortion rights, until last week, he had said that if he were president, he would appoint strict constructionist judges -- language that some took to mean he would appoint judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade. But at the Republican debate in California, things got confusing."

From the 11:00 a.m. ET hour of the October 4 edition of MSNBC Live, featuring NBC News Washington bureau chief Tim Russert:

WITT: What about religious conservatives, Tim? Because they are certainly crucial to the Republican base, but they're considered -- threatening rather -- to consider backing a third party even if the GOP nominates a pro-abortion candidate like Rudy Giuliani. Do you think conservative Christians are trying to regain influence within the GOP or do you think this is a legitimate threat, would they really do it?

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Alex Witt
Show/Publication
MSNBC Live
Stories/Interests
Rudy Giuliani, 2008 Elections
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