Mitt Romney did not break any news Tuesday when he once again said he’d eliminate government funding for Planned Parenthood as part of his larger plan to cut spending. (That plan was best known until now for Romney’s promise to put ads on “Sesame Street.”)
But Romney did state his plan in a slightly different way than he has before — and that was all the kindling Democrats and progressives needed to relight the fire over women’s health that many on the left have seen as a hugely winning issue against the GOP.
Here’s what Romney said on KDSK-TV in Missouri Tuesday:
The test is pretty simple. Is the program so critical, it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And on that basis of course you get rid of Obamacare, that’s the easy one. Planned Parenthood, we’re going to get rid of that. The subsidy for Amtrack, I’d eliminate that. The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities …
Here’s some clipped video that made the rounds Tuesday night on Twitter as political junkies watched the returns trickle in from Alabama and Mississippi:
There’s really nothing new about it. Romney’s call for an end to federal funding for Planned Parenthood is well-documented, and his campaign has made no effort to hide it (he stated it plainly in a 2011 USA Today op-ed and on the trail many times since). But the way Romney said it — “we’re going to get rid of that” — appears to have given his opponents an in.
Planned Parenthood used it as an excuse to bring back the fight over birth control access and other related topics the GOP would probably rather not discuss:
“When Mitt Romney says he wants to ‘get rid’ of Planned Parenthood, he means getting rid of the preventive health care that 3 million people a year rely on for cancer screenings, birth control and other preventive care. This is dangerous and out of step with what most Americans want,” Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Dawn Laguens said in a statement. “Mitt Romney simply can’t be trusted when it comes to women’s health. He supports so-called ‘personhood’ laws, opposes making birth control affordable and accessible and wants to undermine women’s health care.”
And In due course, the Democrats created a web video making the rounds Wednesday morning:
The Romney campaign appeared caught unawares that its candidate had opened up a new phase of the contraception fight by saying something he’s said a thousand times before (albeit with more finesse).
“He singled out some areas of the budget he would eliminate or curtail, all in the name of achieving a balanced budget,” Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told CNN. “It would not be getting rid of the organization. They have other sources of funding besides government operations, but in order to achieve balance, we have to make some tough decisions about spending.”
It’s unclear how long the contraception battle will stick around this time. But Democrats are hoping to leverage Romney’s lazy recitation of his talking points to turn the conversation back to where they want it for the time being.