BOSTON — A day after Mitt Romney went on the air with only his second ad backing a Senate candidate, the Obama campaign is again saying his decision shows he stands with the extreme right when it comes to abortion rights.
Romney took flak from women’s groups, Democrats and Team Obama when he stood by Richard Mourdock in Indiana following that Senate nominee’s comments about rape, conception and God’s will. Now it seems he’s in the same boat again after cutting an ad for North Dakota Rep. Rick Berg (R), who as a state legislator voted for a bill that would have made getting an abortion a class AA felony, meaning rape and incest victims caught getting one would be subject to a sentence of life behind bars.
Berg’s 2007 vote in the state legislature for H.B. 1489 has been part of the national coverage of the North Dakota Senate race since September, when it popped up in the fallout after Rep. Todd Akin’s (R) “legitimate rape” comments in the Missouri Senate fight. But Romney’s decision to cut an ad for Berg that appeared on Saturday put the North Dakotan’s vote back in the national spotlight.
It also caused another abortion-related headache for Romney. Here’s Romney’s ad:
There’s some dispute as to whether the ad is airing on TV. A spokesperson for the North Dakota Democratic Party says it isn’t “as far as we know.” The Berg campaign has featured it prominently on their website and in social media.
Looking much like Romney’s television ad for Mourdock, the Berg spot doesn’t talk about choice at all. But the Obama campaign says the ad is support for extreme social conservatism in the Senate.
“Voters should take note that at the same time Mitt Romney is promising ‘bipartisanship’ on the campaign trail, he’s taping ads for candidates like Richard Mourdock and Rick Berg, who believes that rape victims who get abortions should face life imprisonment,” Lis Smith, a spokesperson for the Obama campaign, said in a statement. “Purposefully building an even more divisive and extreme Republican Party in Washington only means more partisanship and a bigger rubber stamp for the Tea Party agenda.”
Berg’s 2007 vote apparently hasn’t played much in North Dakota, where Democratic nominee Heidi Heitkamp is rated as “mixed choice” by NARAL. Berg is rated as “anti-choice.” In September, Heitkamp’s campaign told the Grand Forks Herald that she opposes taxpayer funding for abortion but also believes “we should not be putting politicians between women and their doctors when making these very personal family decisions.”
In the closing hours of the 2012 campaign however, Romney’s decision to publicly get behind Berg is opening the door to a discussion of abortion at the presidential level once again.
This post has been updated.