VIDEO: Obama and McCain Debate Abortion

Brady Swenson

Bob Schieffer asked Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain "[c]ould either of you ever nominate someone to the Supreme Court who disagrees with you on this issue? Senator McCain?"

Bob Schieffer asked Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain "[c]ould either of you ever nominate someone to the Supreme Court who disagrees with you on this issue? Senator McCain?"  The question set up a nearly ten minute discussion of abortion that included McCain bringing up debunked attacks on Obama’s record on the Illinois Born Alive Infant Protection Act. 


Transcript (via CQ Politics):

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

SCHIEFFER: All right. Let’s stop there
and go to another question. And this one goes to Senator McCain.
Senator McCain, you believe Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Senator
Obama, you believe it shouldn’t.

Could either of you ever nominate someone to the Supreme Court who disagrees with you on this issue? Senator McCain?

I would never and have never in all the years I’ve been there imposed a
litmus test on any nominee to the court. That’s not appropriate to do.

SCHIEFFER: But you don’t want Roe v. Wade to be overturned?

I thought it was a bad decision. I think there were a lot of decisions
that were bad. I think that decisions should rest in the hands of the
states. I’m a federalist. And I believe strongly that we should have
nominees to the United States Supreme Court based on their
qualifications rather than any litmus test. Now, let me say that there
was a time a few years ago when the United States Senate was about to
blow up. Republicans wanted to have just a majority vote to confirm a
judge and the Democrats were blocking in an unprecedented fashion.

got together seven Republicans, seven Democrats. You were offered a
chance to join. You chose not to because you were afraid of the
appointment of, quote, “conservative judges.”

I voted
for Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg. Not because I agreed with
their ideology, but because I thought they were qualified and that
elections have consequences when presidents are nominated. This is a
very important issue we’re talking about.

Senator Obama
voted against Justice Breyer and Justice Roberts on the grounds that
they didn’t meet his ideological standards. That’s not the way we
should judge these nominees. Elections have consequences. They should
be judged on their qualifications. And so that’s what I will do.

will find the best people in the world — in the United States of
America who have a history of strict adherence to the Constitution. And
not legislating from the bench.

SCHIEFFER: But even if it was someone — even someone who had a history of being for abortion rights, you would consider them?

I would consider anyone in their qualifications. I do not believe that
someone who has supported Roe v. Wade that would be part of those
qualifications. But I certainly would not impose any litmus test.

SCHIEFFER: All right.

Well, I think it’s true that we shouldn’t apply a strict litmus test
and the most important thing in any judge is their capacity to provide
fairness and justice to the American people.

And it is
true that this is going to be, I think, one of the most consequential
decisions of the next president. It is very likely that one of us will
be making at least one and probably more than one appointments and Roe
versus Wade probably hangs in the balance.

Now I would
not provide a litmus test. But I am somebody who believes that Roe
versus Wade was rightly decided. I think that abortion is a very
difficult issue and it is a moral issue and one that I think good
people on both sides can disagree on.

But what
ultimately I believe is that women in consultation with their families,
their doctors, their religious advisers, are in the best position to
make this decision. And I think that the Constitution has a right to
privacy in it that shouldn’t be subject to state referendum, any more
than our First Amendment rights are subject to state referendum, any
more than many of the other rights that we have should be subject to
popular vote.

OBAMA: So this is going to be an
important issue. I will look for those judges who have an outstanding
judicial record, who have the intellect, and who hopefully have a sense
of what real-world folks are going through.

I’ll just
give you one quick example. Senator McCain and I disagreed recently
when the Supreme Court made it more difficult for a woman named Lilly
Ledbetter to press her claim for pay discrimination.

years, she had been getting paid less than a man had been paid for
doing the exact same job. And when she brought a suit, saying equal pay
for equal work, the judges said, well, you know, it’s taken you too
long to bring this lawsuit, even though she didn’t know about it until
fairly recently.

We tried to overturn it in the Senate. I supported that effort to provide better guidance to the courts; John McCain opposed it.

think that it’s important for judges to understand that if a woman is
out there trying to raise a family, trying to support her family, and
is being treated unfairly, then the court has to stand up, if nobody
else will. And that’s the kind of judge that I want.

SCHIEFFER: Time’s up.

Obviously, that law waved the statute of limitations, which you could
have gone back 20 or 30 years. It was a trial lawyer’s dream.

me talk to you about an important aspect of this issue. We have to
change the culture of America. Those of us who are proudly pro-life
understand that. And it’s got to be courage and compassion that we show
to a young woman who’s facing this terribly difficult decision.

Obama, as a member of the Illinois State Senate, voted in the Judiciary
Committee against a law that would provide immediate medical attention
to a child born of a failed abortion. He voted against that.

And then, on the floor of the State Senate, as he did 130 times as a state senator, he voted present.

there was another bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the
state of Illinois not that long ago, where he voted against a ban on
partial-birth abortion, one of the late-term abortion, a really — one
of the bad procedures, a terrible. And then, on the floor of the
Illinois State Senate, he voted present.

I don’t know
how you vote “present” on some of that. I don’t know how you align
yourself with the extreme aspect of the pro- abortion movement in
America. And that’s his record, and that’s a matter of his record.

he’ll say it has something to do with Roe v. Wade, about the Illinois
State Senate. It was clear-cut votes that Senator Obama voted, I think,
in direct contradiction to the feelings and views of mainstream

SCHIEFFER: Response?

Yes, let me respond to this. If it sounds incredible that I would vote
to withhold lifesaving treatment from an infant, that’s because it’s
not true. The — here are the facts.

There was a bill
that was put forward before the Illinois Senate that said you have to
provide lifesaving treatment and that would have helped to undermine
Roe v. Wade. The fact is that there was already a law on the books in
Illinois that required providing lifesaving treatment, which is why not
only myself but pro-choice Republicans and Democrats voted against it.

the Illinois Medical Society, the organization of doctors in Illinois,
voted against it. Their Hippocratic Oath would have required them to
provide care, and there was already a law in the books.

respect to partial-birth abortion, I am completely supportive of a ban
on late-term abortions, partial-birth or otherwise, as long as there’s
an exception for the mother’s health and life, and this did not contain
that exception.

And I attempted, as many have in the
past, of including that so that it is constitutional. And that was
rejected, and that’s why I voted present, because I’m willing to
support a ban on late-term abortions as long as we have that exception.

The last point I want to make on the issue of abortion.
This is an issue that — look, it divides us. And in some ways, it may
be difficult to — to reconcile the two views.

there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in
choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say,
“We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing
appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is
sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and
providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want
to choose to keep the baby.”

Those are all things that
we put in the Democratic platform for the first time this year, and I
think that’s where we can find some common ground, because nobody’s
pro-abortion. I think it’s always a tragic situation.

OBAMA: We should try to reduce these circumstances.

SCHIEFFER: Let’s give Senator McCain a short response…

MCCAIN: Just again…

SCHIEFFER: … and then…

Just again, the example of the eloquence of Senator Obama. He’s health
for the mother. You know, that’s been stretched by the pro-abortion
movement in America to mean almost anything.

That’s the
extreme pro-abortion position, quote, “health.” But, look, Cindy and I
are adoptive parents. We know what a treasure and joy it is to have an
adopted child in our lives. We’ll do everything we can to improve
adoption in this country.

But that does not mean that we
will cease to protect the rights of the unborn. Of course, we have to
come together. Of course, we have to work together, and, of course,
it’s vital that we do so and help these young women who are facing such
a difficult decision, with a compassion, that we’ll help them with the
adoptive services, with the courage to bring that child into this world
and we’ll help take care of it.

News Politics

Clinton Campaign Announces Tim Kaine as Pick for Vice President

Ally Boguhn

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

The Clinton campaign announced Friday that Sen. Tim Kaine (R-VA) has been selected to join Hillary Clinton’s ticket as her vice presidential candidate.

“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” said Clinton in a tweet.

“.@TimKaine is a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it,” she added.

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

Kaine signed two letters this week calling for the regulations on banks to be eased, according to a Wednesday report published by the Huffington Post, thereby ”setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, told the New York Times that Kaine’s selection “could be disastrous for our efforts to defeat Donald Trump in the fall” given the senator’s apparent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Just before Clinton’s campaign made the official announcement that Kaine had been selected, the senator praised the TPP during an interview with the Intercept, though he signaled he had ultimately not decided how he would vote on the matter.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Kaine’s record on reproductive rights has also generated controversy as news began to circulate that he was being considered to join Clinton’s ticket. Though Kaine recently argued in favor of providing Planned Parenthood with access to funding to fight the Zika virus and signed on as a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act—which would prohibit states and the federal government from enacting restrictions on abortion that aren’t applied to comparable medical services—he has also been vocal about his personal opposition to abortion.

In a June interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Kaine told host Chuck Todd he was “personally” opposed to abortion. He went on, however, to affirm that he still believed “not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions.”

As Rewire has previously reported, though Kaine may have a 100 percent rating for his time in the Senate from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the campaign website for his 2005 run for governor of Virginia promised he would “work in good faith to reduce abortions” by enforcing Virginia’s “restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother.”

As governor, Kaine did support some existing restrictions on abortion, including Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law. He also signed a 2009 measure that created “Choose Life” license plates in the state, and gave a percentage of the proceeds to a crisis pregnancy network.

Regardless of Clinton’s vice president pick, the “center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted in a bold, populist, progressive direction,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in an emailed statement. “It’s now more important than ever that Hillary Clinton run an aggressive campaign on core economic ideas like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, Wall Street reform, and yes, stopping the TPP. It’s the best way to unite the Democratic Party, and stop Republicans from winning over swing voters on bread-and-butter issues.”

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Republican National Convention Edition

Ally Boguhn

The Trump family's RNC claims about crime and the presidential candidate's record on gender equality have kept fact-checkers busy.

Republicans came together in Cleveland this week to nominate Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention (RNC), generating days of cringe-inducing falsehoods and misleading statements on crime, the nominee’s positions on gender equality, and LGBTQ people.

Trump’s Acceptance Speech Blasted for Making False Claims on Crime

Trump accepted the Republican nomination in a Thursday night speech at the RNC that drew harsh criticism for many of its misleading and outright false talking points.

Numerous fact-checkers took Trump to task, calling out many of his claims for being “wrong,” and “inflated or misleading.”

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

 Among the most hotly contested of Trump’s claims was the assertion that crime has exploded across the country.

“Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement,” Trump claimed, according to his prepared remarks, which were leaked ahead of his address. “Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s 50 largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years. In our nation’s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent. They are up nearly 60 percent in nearby Baltimore.”

Crime rates overall have been steadily declining for years.

“In 2015, there was an uptick in homicides in 36 of the 50 largest cities compared to the previous years. The rate did, indeed, increase nearly 17 percent, and it was the worst annual change since 1990. The homicide rate was up 54.3 percent in Washington, and 58.5 percent in Baltimore,” explained Washington Post fact checkers Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee. “But in the first months of 2016, homicide trends were about evenly split in the major cities. Out of 63 agencies reporting to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, 32 cities saw a decrease in homicides in first quarter 2016 and 31 saw an increase.”

Ames Grawert, a counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program, said in a statement posted to the organization’s website that 2016 statistics aren’t sufficient in declaring crime rate trends. 

“Overall, crime rates remain at historic lows. Fear-inducing soundbites are counterproductive, and distract from nuanced, data-driven, and solution-oriented conversations on how to build a smarter criminal justice system in America,” Grawert said. “It’s true that some cities saw an increase in murder rates last year, and that can’t be ignored, but it’s too early to say if that’s part of a national trend.” 

When Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, was confronted with the common Republican falsehoods on crime during a Thursday interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, he claimed that the FBI’s statistics were not to be trusted given that the organization recently advised against charges in connection with Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.

“According to FBI statistics, crime rates have been going down for decades,” Tapper told Manafort. “How can Republicans make the argument that it’s somehow more dangerous today when the facts don’t back that up?”

“People don’t feel safe in their neighborhoods,” said Manafort, going on to claim that “the FBI is certainly suspect these days after what they did with Hillary Clinton.”

There was at least one notable figure who wholeheartedly embraced Trump’s fearmongering: former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke. “Great Trump Speech,” tweeted Duke on Thursday evening. “Couldn’t have said it better!”

Ben Carson Claims Transgender People Are Proof of “How Absurd We Have Become”

Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson criticized the existence of transgender people while speaking at the Florida delegation breakfast on Tuesday in Cleveland.  

“You know, we look at this whole transgender thing, I’ve got to tell you: For thousands of years, mankind has known what a man is and what a woman is. And now, all of a sudden we don’t know anymore,” said Carson, a retired neurosurgeon. “Now, is that the height of absurdity? Because today you feel like a woman, even though everything about you genetically says that you’re a man or vice versa?”

“Wouldn’t that be the same as if you woke up tomorrow morning after seeing a movie about Afghanistan or reading some books and said, ‘You know what? I’m Afghanistan. Look, I know I don’t look that way. My ancestors came from Sweden, or something, I don’t know. But I really am. And if you say I’m not, you’re a racist,’” Carson said. “This is how absurd we have become.”

When confronted with his comments during an interview with Yahoo News’ Katie Couric, Carson doubled down on his claims.“There are biological markers that tell us whether we are a male or a female,” said Carson. “And just because you wake up one day and you say, ‘I think I’m the other one,’ that doesn’t change it. Just, a leopard can’t change its spots.”

“It’s not as if they woke up one day and decided, ‘I’m going to be a male or I’m going to be a female,’” Couric countered, pointing out that transgender people do not suddenly choose to change their gender identities on a whim.

Carson made several similar comments last year while on the campaign trail.

In December, Carson criticized the suggested that allowing transgender people into the military amounted to using the armed services “as a laboratory for social experimentation.”

Carson once suggested that allowing transgender people to use the restroom that aligned with their gender identity amounted to granting them “extra rights.”

Ivanka Trump Claims Her Father Supports Equal Pay, Access to Child Care

Ivanka Trump, the nominee’s daughter, made a pitch during her speech Thursday night at the RNC for why women voters should support her father.

“There have always been men of all background and ethnicities on my father’s job sites. And long before it was commonplace, you also saw women,” Ivanka Trump said. “At my father’s company, there are more female than male executives. Women are paid equally for the work that we do and when a woman becomes a mother, she is supported, not shut out.” 

“As president, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce. And he will focus on making quality child care affordable and accessible for all,” she continued before pivoting to address the gender wage gap. 

“Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties; they should be the norm. Politicians talk about wage equality, but my father has made it a practice at his company throughout his entire career.”

However, Trump’s stated positions on the gender wage gap, pregnancy and mothers in the workplace, and child care don’t quite add up to the picture the Trumps tried to paint at the RNC.

In 2004, Trump called pregnancy an “inconvenience” for employers. When a lawyer asked for a break during a deposition in 2011 to pump breast milk, Trump reportedly called her “disgusting.”

According to a June analysis conducted by the Boston Globe, the Trump campaign found that men who worked on Trump’s campaign “made nearly $6,100, or about 35 percent more [than women during the April payroll]. The disparity is slightly greater than the gender pay gap nationally.”

A former organizer for Trump also filed a discrimination complaint in January, alleging that she was paid less than her male counterparts.

When Trump was questioned about equal pay during a campaign stop last October, he did not outline his support for policies to address the issue. Instead, Trump suggested that, “You’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job.” Though he had previously stated that men and women who do the same job should be paid the same during an August 2015 interview on MSNBC, he also cautioned that determining whether people were doing the same jobs was “tricky.”

Trump has been all but completely silent on child care so far on the campaign trail. In contrast, Clinton released an agenda in May to address the soaring costs of child care in the United States.

Ivanka’s claims were not the only attempt that night by Trump’s inner circle to explain why women voters should turn to the Republican ticket. During an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Manafort said that women would vote for the Republican nominee because they “can’t afford their lives anymore.”

“Many women in this country feel they can’t afford their lives, their husbands can’t afford to be paying for the family bills,” claimed Manafort. “Hillary Clinton is guilty of being part of the establishment that created that problem. They’re going to hear the message. And as they hear the message, that’s how we are going to appeal to them.”

What Else We’re Reading

Vox’s Dara Lind explained how “Trump’s RNC speech turned his white supporters’ fear into a weapon.”

Now that Mike Pence is the Republican nominee for vice president, Indiana Republicans have faced “an intense, chaotic, awkward week of brazen lobbying at the breakfast buffet, in the hallways and on the elevators” at the convention as they grapple with who will run to replace the state’s governor, according to the New York Times.

“This is a party and a power structure that feels threatened with extinction, willing to do anything for survival,” wrote Rebecca Traister on Trump and the RNC for New York Magazine. “They may not love Trump, but he is leading them precisely because he embodies their grotesque dreams of the restoration of white, patriarchal power.”

Though Trump spent much of the primary season denouncing big money in politics, while at the RNC, he courted billionaires in hopes of having them donate to supporting super PACs.

Michael Kranish reported for the Washington Post that of the 2,472 delegates at the RNC, it is estimated that only 18 were Black.

Cosmopolitan highlighted nine of the most sexist things that could be found at the convention.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) asked, “Where are these contributions that have been made” by people of color to civilization?