From the Brody File:
In August of that same year, Thompson called abortion a “distracting issue.” Read below from an Associated Press article:
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 tus together and not what divides us,’ Thompson said in an interview with The Tennessean published Tuesday.
The choice of the word “distracting” might tell of an important difference between the “conversions” of Thompson and Gov. Romney on this issue. There’s a case to be made that as a businessman without any political experience running for Senate in 1994, Gov. Romney hadn’t spent much time thinking about the abortion debate. He said that he was personally pro-life, but did not believe abortions should be illegal. He was a businessman who thought about balance sheets and markets, not controversial social issues. It was only some 10 years later, as governor of Massachusetts, that Gov. Romney came face-to-face with the “Party of Death” and so reconsidered his views. But for Sen. Thompson to call abortion a “distracting” issue suggests to me something much different. To me, “distracting” is what my little brother used to be when he’d follow me around wanting to play with us older kids. But he was only distracting because I could see him; because I thought about him being there; because I was aware of his desire to play and the reasons why he thought he should be able to particpate. In short, because I had considered the matter–my brother–and simply wished that it would go away. That’s what Sen. Thompson’s use of the word “distracting” sounds like to me. But, hey, maybe I’m reading too much into it. Then again, his current, apparently, indifferent federalist position on abortion–let the states deal with it come whatever may–smacks of the same attitude. And if that’s the case–and as Charles said, we’re perfectly willing to be proven wrong–that’s not what we need in the White House.
UPDATE: Some clarification is needed. What I meant to say re: letting the states decide abortion is that Sen. Thompson seems not care which way the states decide the matter. So my criticism is not of his federalist leanings–I like those very much–but of his apparent indifference to outlawing abortion at the state level.