He Said, He Said: Thompson on Abortion

A candidate's "voting record is what we look to to determine whether or not what he says is what he's going to do," Lehman said. "He has a record and his record speaks for itself. As for this documentation, I would be speculating as to what it means. But the reality is he's pro-life and will be pro-life and we can count on him to be pro-life. I believe the man."

David O'Steen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee, likewise said that the documents meant nothing to him in light of Thompson's "strong pro-life voting record."

"I don't know who did this or who prepared it," O'Steen said of the position papers. "Or who hand-wrote that up top. And it was 11 years ago. But there's nothing in here that would be of any concern to me. The proof of his position is the voting record in the Senate."

Others may have their doubts, as investigations by the media and rival candidates have revealed that the man who most recently starred on NBC's "Law & Order" as conservative Manhattan District Attorney Arthur Branch was not necessarily a darling of social conservatives during his eight years in the U.S. Senate.

One document recently reported by the Christian Broadcasting Network is an Aug. 19, 1994, memo from the state Republican chairman to Thompson and his then (and current) chief campaign aide Bill Lacy reporting that Tennessee Christian Coalition president John Hanna has "some serious concerns about his candidacy" in Thompson's Senate race against Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn.

CLICK HERE to read that memo in full.

"Fred scored 92 on their questionnaire but the talk is NOT GOOD," the memo stated. "Hanna said that the line used in their leadership circles and beginning to get down into the rank is 'Between Thompson and Cooper where is the choice?' Hanna said that he will personally vote for Fred only because his 'conservative peers in Congress will get him to do the right thing, not because of Fred's own principles.'"

Bemoaning the fact that "there is not a relationship between Fred Thompson and the Christian Coalition," Hanna shared his view "that most people perceive that Fred was no different than Cooper, regardless of the rating on the Christian Coalition's scorecard."

As a senator, Thompson had a reliably conservative voting record, with a few blips here and there, such as his support for campaign finance reform.

In 2000, the Christian Coalition gave him a 77 percent rating on its issues, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave him a rating of 93 percent. The nonpartisan National Journal reported that Thompson was far more likely to vote with the conservative point of view if the issues dealt with international affairs or economic issues, and less likely to fall into lockstep on socially conservative issues.

In 1996, Thompson suggested that anti-abortion language in the GOP platform was unnecessarily divisive.

"We need to concentrate on what brings us together and not what divides us," Thompson told the Tennessean.

The other GOP front-runners also have mixed records, as far as the "pro-life" movement is concerned.

Giuliani supports abortion rights, though he seeks to emphasize how as mayor the number of abortions in New York decreased while the number of adoptions increased.

Romney, in a 1994 Senate race, said he would "protect a woman's right to choose," though he now said he had an epiphany about the issue in 2005 that makes him now oppose abortion rights.

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