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During a report on the Republican presidential candidates' views on abortion rights, on the November 26 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN chief national correspondent John King stated that as "a mayoral candidate in 1989 ... [former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani] promised to uphold the constitutional right to an abortion" without mentioning that Giuliani reportedly shifted his position on the abortion issue during the course of his 1989 mayoral campaign, as Media Matters for America has previously documented. Further, at the conclusion of King's report, Situation Room anchor Wolf Blitzer asked King, "[T]he bottom line, John, is he supports abortion rights for women, is that right?" to which King responded, "He does." King went on to assert that Giuliani "says that he supports the constitutional right for a woman to choose an abortion ... he does believe there is that constitutional right." But neither King nor Blitzer reported that Giuliani said during the May 3 Republican presidential debate that "[i]t would be OK to repeal" Roe v. Wade -- the 1973 Supreme Court decision finding that the Constitution protects a women's right to an abortion. Further, neither King nor Blitzer noted -- as Media Matters has repeatedly documented -- that Giuliani has said on several occasions that if elected president, he would appoint "strict constructionist" judges and has specifically "pledge[d] to use ... as model appointments" Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, both of whom have declared their support for overturning Roe.
From the November 26 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
BLITZER: Abortion is a major issue among the Republican candidates, with some facing questions about their views and how they've changed over the years, including the former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani. Helping us keep all of the politicians honest is our chief national correspondent, John King.
He's joining us now live from St. Petersburg in Florida. John, how big of an issue is abortion for the Giuliani campaign?
KING: Well, Wolf, you would have to live in a cave to not know that Rudy Giuliani is the only of the leading Republican candidates who says he supports a woman's constitutional right to have an abortion. But the issue, of course, is much more complicated than that.
What about taxpayer funding?
What about parental notification for minors who want to get abortions?
What about so-called late-term or partial-birth abortions?
So we went back over Giuliani's record the past 20 years and, clearly, there is a bit of an evolution.
[begin video clip]
KING: From a mayoral candidate in 1989, who promised to uphold the constitutional right to an abortion despite his Catholic upbringing --
GIULIANI: I have religious views and personal views that are contrary to -- to some of these in these areas.
KING: -- to a mayor who offered no such reservations --
GIULIANI: I am pro-choice, I am pro-gay rights.
KING: -- to a presidential candidate who now embraces abortion restrictions he had opposed as mayor.
WHIT AYERS (GOP pollster): I think that Rudy Giuliani's current position makes his pro-choice stance more acceptable to a lot of Republicans -- not all, certainly, but a lot of Republicans.
KING: As mayor, Giuliani supported taxpayer-financed abortions for poor women. He reiterated that support in this 1997 candidate questionnaire and again in this CNN interview seven months ago.
DANA BASH (CNN correspondent): So you support taxpayer money or public funding for abortion in some cases?
GIULIANI: If it would deprive someone of a constitutional right, yes. And if that is the status of the law, then I would, yes.
KING: But a day later, amid a conservative uproar, he rushed to clarify his stance on taxpayer funding.
GIULIANI: I would want to see it decided on a state-by-state basis.
KING: In that 1997 questionnaire, he also opposed restrictions on minors receiving abortions. Now, he says he backs parental notification as long as a judge can waive the requirement in some circumstances. He also has evolved on whether to ban late-term abortion. During the Clinton administration, when Congress tried to outlaw the procedure, Giuliani opposed the legislation.
GIULIANI: No, I have not supported that and I don't see my position on that changing.
KING: But it did. This is Giuliani after an April Supreme Court ruling upholding a ban.
GIULIANI: And I must say Justice [Anthony] Kennedy's opinion convinced me even more that my support for the ban is a correct one.
KING: So if he says now that he has a different position on that legislation, you would think?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I think he owes the American public an explanation of why he's flip-flopped so dramatically.
[end video clip]
KING: Now, Giuliani aides reject and dismiss that flip-flop label. They also say, Wolf, that critics tend to exaggerate what they would call a natural evolution on the issue. They say to the degree and on the specific issues where his emphasis has changed, they say, in part, that is based on his life experience, his moral and religious beliefs. And they also say it is very different being or running for mayor of New York City or dealing with abortion and the questions about abortion that a president -- a ruler of the entire country -- would have to confront -- Wolf.
BLITZER: But the bottom line, John, is he supports abortion rights for women, is that right?
KING: He does. In this campaign, he says that he supports the constitutional right for a woman to choose an abortion, although he has said in this campaign -- and it's something, again, the critics say he never said as mayor, that he personally hates or detests or despises abortion, but he does believe there is that constitutional right, yes.
BLITZER: John King for us.