Paul Ryan used a strong dose of social conservatism to push back on a central message of President Obama’s: That Americans need to pull together and sacrifice in order to improve the country as a whole.
Ryan told the social conservatives gathered for the Values Voter Summit in Washington Friday that Obama’s argument is disingenuous because Obama believes in abortion rights.
“‘We’re all in this together’ — it has a nice ring,” Ryan said. “For everyone who loves this country, it is not only true but obvious. Yet how hollow it sounds coming from a politician who has never once lifted a hand to defend the most helpless and innocent of all human beings, the child waiting to be born.”
Ryan, who believes that abortion should be outlawed even in cases of rape and incest, cast Obama as an abortion extremist in the speech.
“President Obama has chosen to pander to the most extreme elements of his party,” Ryan said. “In the Clinton years, the stated goal was to make abortion ‘safe, legal and rare.’ But that was a different time, and a different president. Now, apparently, the Obama-Biden ticket stands for an absolute, unqualified right to abortion — at any time, under any circumstances, and even at taxpayer expense.”
Ryan used the Democratic platform’s language about abortion against the president. Conservatives have balked that the assertion that abortions should be “safe, legal and rare” that appeared in past Democratic platforms is no longer there.
But Obama has personally used the “safe, legal and rare” phrasing in the past.
Romney has publicly distanced himself from the GOP platform’s stance on abortion, which makes no mention of exceptions to an out-right ban.
Ryan made his remarks at the premier event sponsored by the Family Research Council, the social conservative group that is Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s most prominent supporters. Republicans — Ryan among them — were forced into uncomfortable conversations about abortion following Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments. It was especially tough for Ryan, who co-sponsored a bill with Akin that critics said redefined the word “rape.” Democrats seized on that fact to cast Ryan as an extremist on abortion rights and women’s health issues.
Ryan tried to turn the tables on Obama and the Democrats in his speech at the summit.
“These vital questions should be decided, not by the caprice of unelected judges, but by the conscience of the people and their elected representatives. And in this good-hearted country, we believe in showing compassion for mother and child alike,” he said. “We don’t write anyone off in America, especially those without a voice. Every child has a place and purpose in this world.”