Steele does damage control on abortion remarks

The RNC chair is walking back his apparently pro-choice sentiments, and is reportedly reaching out to social conservative leaders, who aren't happy.

Published March 12, 2009 2:00PM (EDT)

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is trying to get himself out of the hot water he landed himself in during his recent interview with GQ, in which he made some apparently pro-choice remarks about abortion. It may be too late.

Steele is "reaching out to anti-abortion leaders," Politico's Ben Smith reports, and he's put out this statement:

I am pro-life, always have been, always will be.

I tried to present why I am pro life while recognizing that my mother had a "choice" before deciding to put me up for adoption. I thank her every day for supporting life. The strength of the pro life movement lies in choosing life and sharing the wisdom of that choice with those who face difficult circumstances. They did that for my mother and I am here today because they did. In my view Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided and should be repealed. I realize that there are good people in our party who disagree with me on this issue.

But the Republican Party is and will continue to be the party of life. I support our platform and its call for a Human Life Amendment. It is important that we stand up for the defenseless and that we continue to work to change the hearts and minds of our fellow countrymen so that we can welcome all children and protect them under the law.

But, Smith also reports, some heavyweights of social conservatism -- who already had problems fully trusting Steele because of his past alliances with moderates -- are skeptical.

"I expressed my concerns to the chairman earlier this week about previous statements that were very similar in nature," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement. "He assured me as chairman his views did not matter and that he would be upholding and promoting the Party platform, which is very clear on these issues. It is very difficult to reconcile the GQ interview with the chairman's pledge."

As I noted in my previous post on this, Steele also apparently broke a different pledge to social conservatives during the interview, slagging a proposed Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage despite a promise that he'd support it if elected RNC chair. So far, though -- and unsurprisingly -- it's Steele's comments about abortion that are getting the most attention.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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