Romney says he wouldn't limit abortion rights, then walks it back

Noting that Mitt Romney downplayed his opposition to abortion rights in an Iowa newspaper, the Obama campaign on Wednesday accused the Republican nominee of attempting to hide extreme views on reproductive health in order to moderate his image and “close the deal” with skeptical women voters.

“There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda,” Romney said in an interview Tuesday with the Des Moines Register editorial board.

That marked a fairly recent change of tone for Romney who, earlier in his career, changed from being a supporter of abortion rights to an opponent. During the Republican primaries this year, Romney asserted his anti-abortion bona fides, saying repeatedly that Roe v. Wade should be overturned and that all federal funding for Planned Parenthood should be eliminated. He has also said he would appoint Supreme Court justices committed to overturning the landmark decision that legalized abortion.

“The real Mitt Romney will say anything to win,” Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for Obama, said in a conference call with reporters. “He’s cynically trying to hide his real positions.”

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, who said she has taken a leave of absence to campaign for Obama, noted that Romney has also spoken in support of the proposed Rubio-Blunt amendment, which would give employers the power to determine whether health-care plans would cover abortion, and in favor of a proposed “personhood” legislation that would define a fertilized human egg as a person for the purposes of determining constitutional rights.

“Mitt Romney is proudly pro-life, and he will be a pro-life president,” campaign spokesman Andrea Saul said.

Said Richards: “The American people can’t trust him (Romney) to be honest and direct with what he believes.

Strategically, the Obama campaign has been counting on a gender gap – a disparity between women’s and men’s support of the president’s reelection – to win.