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During the August 17 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN), a potential Republican presidential candidate, asserted, "I think Roe vs. Wade was a bad decision," and added, "You don't just get up one day and overturn the entire history of the country with regard to major social policy without any action by Congress, without any action by the American people or a constitutional amendment. And that's what happened. It shouldn't have happened. It ought to be reversed." National correspondent John King did not note that Thompson's statement contradicted comments Thompson reportedly made in 1993 to the Memphis Commercial Appeal. As Media Matters for America has documented, a July 29, 1993, article in the Commercial Appeal reported that Thompson said in an interview that he "supports the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision that established a constitutional right to abortion."
As Media Matters has noted, King has previously reported that leaders of socially conservative advocacy groups are "gravitating toward" Thompson in part because former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) changed his position on abortion -- suggesting that Thompson has not.
From the August 17, 4 p.m. ET edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
KING: You met this morning privately with some conservative activists in this state, the people who helped people win the caucuses in the past.
They say that they were very comfortable with everything you said in that private meeting, very comfortable with your agenda. But they say they are skeptical, that they don't want to just hear lip service. They want to see results.
And they want to know, over time, as they meet you, would a President Fred Thompson actively push a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage? Would a President Fred Thompson actively push to overturn Roe v. Wade? What are the answers to those questions?
THOMPSON: Yes. Yes. I think that, with regard to gay marriage, you have a full faith and credit issue. I don't think one state ought to be able to pass a law requiring gay marriage or allowing gay marriage, and have another state be required to follow along under full faith and credit.
There are some exceptions and exemptions for that. It hasn't happened yet, but I think a federal court would very much -- very well likely will -- will go in that direction. And the constitutional amendment would cure that.
I think Roe vs. Wade was a bad decision. I think it was bad law and bad medicine. You don't just get up one day and overturn the entire history of the country with regard to major social policy without any action by Congress, without any action by the American people or a constitutional amendment. And that's what happened. It shouldn't have happened. It ought to be reversed.
KING: So, it wouldn't be a speech a year or two speeches a year; you would promise, on those issues, on both of those issues, a sustained effort if you were the president?
THOMPSON: Well, I don't think, as a president, you can do anything halfway. I mean, if you take a position, you're bringing the whole office of the presidency to bear. And you have a bully pulpit. You have an obligation to speak about those things that are important to you. And those things are important.