When I first heard that Fred Thompson might run for President, David said, “No big deal. He’s pro-choice.” So, I was surprised the next day to hear Thompson talking about wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade.
That’s why I was interested in a post that Volunteer Voters had on its site, called “Pro-Thompson, Pro-Choice?” Apparently, Thompson ran as a pro-choice candidate in both of his Tennessee campaigns. (I lived in New York at the time, so I didn’t quite follow it as closely as I would now.) Here are the news articles that made reference to it:
Both [Thompson and Houston Gordon] also are basically pro-choice on abortion although Thompson has voted to bar federal funding of abortions. Both candidates said they would have voted to override Clinton’s veto of a bill this year that would have banned a controversial partial-birth abortion procedure. (Memphis Commercial Appeal, 11/4/96)
U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson says he seldom hears about abortion in campaign travels throughout Tennessee and hopes the issue is downplayed at the Republican National Convention. The Tennessee Republican, a pro-choice defender in a party with an anti-abortion tilt, is preparing for next week’s convention in San Diego. He said the party must avoid distracting issues and focus on electing Bob Dole as president. “We need to concentrate on what brings us together and not what divides us,” Thompson said in an interview with The Tennessean published Tuesday. Thompson said he opposes making early-term abortions a crime, as some Republicans would like to do with a constitutional amendment. “But I don’t think you should bolt on one issue. I’m still not convinced platforms are a good idea. We know what we believe in and I don’t think we need to write it all down in a document,” Thompson said. (AP, 8/6/96)
On abortion, both Thompson and Cooper are pro-choice. But Thompson favors parental notification, Cooper voted against it. (National Review, 6/27/94)
Though Thompson says he’s pro-choice, his voting record on abortion issues (which includes opposing fellow Tennessean Henry Foster’s nomination for surgeon general) has earned him high marks from both the Christian Coalition and the National Right to Life Committee. He has also won the backing of the tobacco industry and the NRA. (Washington Monthly, 12/1/96)
Are we against converts? Obviously not–we believe converts can be the best advocates. However, there’s a certain giddiness over the “true conservative candidacy” of Fred Thompson that doesn’t quite jibe with the facts. He’d be a great candidate–with a fantastic accent, mind you–but a flawed one as well. That’s why the Tennessee contigency at Evangelicals for Mitt prefers Gov. Romney. No, he didn’t run as a pro-life candidate in Massachusetts, but he came down on the side of life in every decision he made as Governor. And frankly, his advocacy in hostile territory for conservative ideals impress me a little more than a Tennesseean running as a pro-choicer in the middle of the Bible Belt.