I’ve talked to several campaigns and I’ve talked to NRLC sources.
First, let me cut short a few developing myths and spins.
1. This is not a rejection of pro-life converts. A few people are pitching that and it’s just not true. Given Fred’s record and Romney’s record — actual records, not speeches — Fred measures better over the course of his career. Just yesterday we were treated to news of Romney’s healthcare plan offering $50.00 abortions, for example. While Romney clearly pushed for the endorsement, it was never really that likely that he could get it because of his record while Governor. Also, a source tells me that Romney was not helped by Jim Bopp attacking Sam Brownback a few weeks ago, an act a few people took to be authorized by the Roney campaign.
2. NRLC did not endorse a guy with a 33% pro-life voting record. In the year in question when Thompson got the 33%, there were three issues scored by NRLC. Two of them were McCain-Feingold issues and one was abortion related. Thompson voted the right way on the abortion matter. In looking at endorsing, NRLC looked at the actual pro-life votes made by the candidates. Thompson, every year in office, scored 100% on pro-life legislation.
3. Let me add one more here after posting because I see how this is going. The NRLC endorsement is, in fact, one of the very few endorsements a candidate will get that cannot be characterized as “inside the beltway,” despite what some of the other campaigns would have you believe. NRLC has been successful because it is a very grassroots organization and its endorsements are made based on the grassroots leadership in each of the 50 states, not from a small group sitting inside the beltway.
So, now, here’s the deal and it should give comfort to folks going squishy on Thompson.
Over the last few days, we had the Dobson matter. Some Huckabee folks blame the Thompson camp for getting the word out about Dobson, thereby putting pressure on Dobson to shut down the endorsement. Whether that’s true or not, the Huckabee folks were spitting mad about it and have been working their butts off to deny Fred the NRLC endorsement. Same with the Romney camp. Jim Bopp pushed very hard, but as stated earlier, in addition to Romney’s problematic (and recent) record, some of the NRLC guys got a bad vibe over Bopp’s attack on Brownback. They seemed to think it was authorized by the Romney camp and didn’t like that. Given the interactions with both the Thompson campaign and NRLC have handled the last twenty-four hours, you can be sure that a lot of the last minute leaking came from other camps, designed to drum up last minute pressure against NRLC. Unfortunately for them, NRLC would not budge. They’ve found the guy who think think is the best pro-life candidate, whether you agree with them or not (and they have a good track record).
Thompson himself, I’m told, persuaded the NRLC in writing.
I’m told he made several points that really stood out to them. One of the NRLC guys said they really liked seeing in writing, from Thompson, one point that I have been harping on as well. Thompson apparently made the case that candidates saying they’d appoint originalist judges was not enough. Thompson said the President needed to make sure key executive appointments who could affect abortion policy did, in fact, embrace and believe in the culture of life (I’m told he listed several departments by name). Having said that for a good while, I’m glad to see a candidate make the case. Contrast that with Rudy who says he’d pick the most qualified people. Fred apparently indicated that key Executive Branch appointments need to be pro-life.
I’m also told that Thompson brought up Planned Parenthood’s funding under Title X and said, in effect, he would cut it off.
What about Fred’s controversial statement on the Human Life Amendment on Meet the Press? I’m told by multiple sources that Fred explicitly said he supported the party platform and would not get rid of that plank, but pointed out that even when the GOP controlled both houses of Congress and the White House there were not enough votes to pass the HLA and he’d rather spend his four years working to end abortion through means that would be successful, e.g. originalist judicial appointments and pro-life executive appointments and policies.
Just after the endorsement today, Fred’s campaign released a statement that said, in part, “While Fred supports the long term objective of the Human LIfe Amendment, the votes are simply not there in Congress, nor were they there when we controlled both houses of Congress. For instance, in the Senate, we are presently at least 25 votes short, with passage in the House even more difficult. The quickest way to reverse Roe v. Wade is to appoint judges who will interpret the Constitution according to its actual text. Fred would appoint those kinds of judges.”
Fred received the NRLC endorsement when he ran for the Senate the first time and he did, contrary to some, have a 100% pro-life voting record on abortion related issues while in the Senate. Oh, and he was John Roberts’ sherpa through confirmation. We shouldn’t be surprised that someone with his record got the nod, especially considering what he apparently was willing to put in writing to them.
NOTE: I say “apparently” throughout because while sources were willing to share details, neither NRLC sources nor Thompson sources were willing to release Thompson’s written statement. Not releasing the letters is how all the campaigns and the NRLC operate with these endorsements.