Politico's Allen (again) ignored McCain's inconsistencies to call him "staunchly anti-abortion"

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

In a Politico article on the 2008 presidential candidates' personal "drawbacks," Mike Allen described Sen. John McCain as "staunchly anti-abortion," again ignoring McCain's inconsistency on abortion and the various statements he has made on the issue of whether Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Allen has previously characterized McCain as "socially moderate" and a "moderate" who might appeal to California voters, who Allen said "overwhelmingly" support abortion rights.

In a February 19 Politico article purporting to examine the 2008 presidential candidates' personal "drawbacks," chief political correspondent Mike Allen described Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) as "staunchly anti-abortion" and quoted McCain's statement from his February 18 appearance at a rally in South Carolina that "I do not support Roe v. Wade. It should be overturned." As in his previous reporting, Allen ignored McCain's stark inconsistency on abortion and the various statements he has made on the issue of whether Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Moreover, Allen's "staunchly anti-abortion" characterization of McCain appeared to depart from his February 14 description of McCain as "socially moderate" and his February 15 suggestion that a "moderate" like McCain might appeal to California voters, who Allen said "overwhelmingly" support abortion rights.

Additionally, Allen relied on Republican talking points in examining Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) alleged "drawbacks," writing that "Clinton's attempt to deal with" her position on the Iraq war "has been the most labored and agonizingly public of any of the candidates' efforts to recalibrate their images, with the Republican National Committee collecting her evolving quotes and mocking them as 'Hillary's Kerryaoke On Iraq.' " But the quotes collected by the RNC to which Allen referred falsely suggested a contradiction between Clinton's recent statements on Iraq and her comments from a 2002 appearance on NBC's Meet the Press.

Allen wrote:

Sen. John McCain: The Arizonan's chief vulnerability is ideological. Even though McCain is staunchly anti-abortion, conservatives don't trust him because he voted against Bush's tax cuts and championed campaign finance reform, which many activists saw as a do-gooder intervention that hurt some of their pet organizations. Over the weekend, McCain confronted these doubts among social conservatives head-on, attending an abstinence rally in Spartanburg, S.C. Later, at a rally, referring to the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, he said: "I do not support Roe v. Wade. It should be overturned."

As Media Matters for America noted, On August 25, 1999, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that McCain had told its editorial board:

"I'd love to see a point where it is irrelevant and could be repealed because abortion is no longer necessary. ... But certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe vs. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to (undergo) illegal and dangerous operations."

But several days later, he issued what the San Francisco Chronicle called a "clarification," reportedly saying: "I have always believed in the importance of the repeal of Roe vs. Wade, and as president, I would work toward its repeal." And adding:

"If Roe v. Wade were repealed tomorrow, it would force thousands of young women to undergo dangerous and illegal operations. I will continue to work with both pro-life and pro-choice Americans so that we can eliminate the need for abortions to be performed in this country."

In 2006, McCain also issued a statement indicating that if he were the governor of South Dakota, he "would have signed" a controversial bill outlawing all abortions except when the life of the woman is threatened, but that he "would also take the appropriate steps under state law -- in whatever state -- to ensure that the exceptions of rape, incest or life of the mother were included." As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman noted: "But that attempt at qualification makes no sense: the South Dakota law has produced national shockwaves precisely because it prohibits abortions even for victims of rape or incest."

Allen continued:

Hillary Clinton: Many Democratic strategists predicted the New York senator would eventually be boxed into saying it was a mistake to vote to authorize military force against Iraq, and her team recognizes that -- at least for now -- some activists won't be satisfied if she stops short of that. But she declared in New Hampshire over the weekend that although "she would not vote that way again if we knew then what we know now": "If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from. But for me, the most important thing now is trying to end this war."

Clinton's attempt to deal with her initial Achilles' heel has been the most labored and agonizingly public of any of the candidates' efforts to recalibrate their images, with the Republican National Committee collecting her evolving quotes and mocking them as "Hillary's Kerryaoke On Iraq."

The RNC attack to which Allen referred, however, falsely claimed that, in 2002, Clinton "Was Singing A Different Tune" on Iraq. The RNC contrasted the following statements from Clinton:

Sen. Clinton: "I have taken responsibility for that vote. It was based on the best assessment that I could make at the time, and it was clearly intended to demonstrate support for going to the United Nations to put inspectors into Iraq." (John DiStaso, "Hillary: I Didn't Vote For 'Pre-Emptive War,' " The [Manchester] Union Leader, 2/10/07)

[...]

Sen. Clinton: "I can support the President, I can support an action against Saddam Hussein because I think it's in the long-term interests of our national security ..." (NBC's "Meet The Press,' 9/15/02)

However, as Media Matters documented when ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper asserted a similar "contradiction," Clinton specifically argued in favor of inspections during the very Meet the Press interview from which the RNC quoted and in a subsequent speech on the Senate floor. Absent this context, the truncated 2002 quote leaves the false impression that Clinton unequivocally supported pre-emptive military action against Iraq.

Network/Outlet
The Politico
Person
Mike Allen
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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