Have We Lost Our Minds?

Ann Stone

The national chairman of Republicans for Choice sets the record straight on the group's "non-endorsement" of Sen. John McCain.

I have never understood the anger some pro-choicers direct at me or the organization I direct, Republicans for Choice PAC (RFC). When we do anything a different way you would think that we are out there with the anti-choice extremists. These outraged pro-choice activists need to calm down. Differences on how to do things is one of the reasons different groups have developed.

These critics act like we are helping James Dobson, Gary Bauer, Alan Keyes, Ann Coulter and others in the GOP who truly are trying to keep women barefoot and perpetually pregnant. They're quick to judge us without asking any questions. How sad. Our real enemies take advantage of this weakness. We need to work together, not take shots at others on our side.

Recently we posted a message on our website that appeared to "endorse" McCain without using those words. We didn't use those words because it was not an endorsement. We do not endorse anyone who is not pro-choice and Republican. That is our mission. But after again reading the language we posted I could see why there was confusion — that was our fault.

Let me tell you what we posted and why we did it.

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Our working Board was anxious to make sure by echoing Giuliani on McCain that our folks would not vote for Romney in the upcoming primaries.

The original language on our position on McCain was posted before Romney dropped out. We worried our supporters might remember the old pro-choice Romney as a progressive Republican candidate for Governor of Massachusetts; not the snake-in-the-grass anti-choice candidate who flip-flopped and sold us out to win a few caucuses. We wanted to remind our members and supporters McCain was their second choice, after Giuliani, when we surveyed our membership.

This posting has to do with the primary phase of this campaign; the general election is a different matter.

Why would our membership have any reason even to make McCain their second choice?

Take a look at what Ann Coulter has written about McCain's "pro-life" positions. If you are pro-choice, you have to watch with glee at the meltdown she is having over McCain as the presumed Republican nominee. She is apoplectic that McCain labels himself "pro life" and has voted for stem cell research and is against the so-called Human Life Amendment.

So should we try to reach out and work with McCain? Yes. That is part of our job as partisans for Choice. Do we think he will be with us on everything? No — he called for the overturn of Roe. Now we need to make sure he does not lift a finger to help do that.

I have no way of knowing your background on politics as you read this, and I don't know what your frame of reference is. Let me give you some information so you understand our frame of reference.

I personally have worked in over 450 campaigns worldwide and in 10 presidential campaigns. Many others in my group have similar backgrounds. We understand the inside game and have made some minor progress inside the Republican Party as well as in state legislative and initiative battles and several other fronts.

Yes, I believe that things could have been worse in the GOP if RFC had never existed.

Our group was the only pro-choice group, partisan or otherwise, that called it right on Supreme Court Justice David Souter: that he was going to be with us.

Our information on Republican partisans is much more extensive than most people would have access to.

Does that mean we will endorse and work for McCain in the general election? Let me repeat: we only endorse and work for pro-choice Republican candidates. Unless McCain undergoes a conversion in the coming days the answer to that is a resounding "No."

Now we need to work to insure that Romney, Huckabee or any other anti-choice activist is not McCain's choice for vice president. Can we insure his running mate won't be anti-choice? Not yet. But I think we do have a strong case to be made that in the twenty-first century this vice presidential nominee should at least believe in evolution. We will start there and work our way up to the best possible VP nominee who will support women and their rights.

Why bother to try and influence who else is on the GOP ticket? My years of experience tell me that no matter how the Republicans' prospects for success in the general election look right now, things will change many times before November. Look at how unpredictable this election cycle has been so far! So we need to try and make sure someone who believes in women and will work on the inside to protect their rights makes it on the ticket — just in case.

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