McCain Backs Away from Abortion Pledge

Aug 20, 2008 8:46pm

ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Rigel Anderson Report: John McCain’s campaign signaled on Wednesday that the Arizona senator is backing away from his previously stated goal of changing the GOP’s platform on abortion.

"There’s a process in place for the delegates to work on the platform and we are going to let that process work itself out," McCain spokesman Brian Rogers told ABC News.

McCain’s plan to take a hands-off approach with the abortion platform stands in stark contrast with the position he took during his first presidential run.

Back in 2000, McCain clashed with then-Gov. George W. Bush over his unwillingness to change platform language that called for a human life amendment banning all abortions.

McCain implored Bush to join him in wanting to add exceptions for rape, incest, and danger to the life of the mother.

Watch the McCain-Bush sparring here

McCain’s desire to change the platform did not end in 2000.

During an April 14, 2007 media availability which followed the Iowa GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner in Des Moines, McCain reaffirmed his support for changing the platform.

But now that he is the presumptive Republican nominee, the McCain camp is making it clear that he has no plans to push for changes to the platform.

McCain’s decision to leave the platform untouched follows a warning from a prominent social conservative.

"If he were to change the party platform," to account for exceptions such as rape, incest or risk to the mother’s life, "I think that would be political suicide," Tony Perkins, the president of the conservative Family Research Council, told ABC News in May. "I think he would be aborting his own campaign because that is such a critical issue to so many Republican voters and the Republican brand is already in trouble."

While leaving the platform untouched would please many in the GOP’s socially conservative base, it could alienate some of the more moderate voters that McCain is hoping to attract.

"If he doesn’t change the platform, then he’s being the same kind of hypocrite that he accused Bush of being in 2000," Jennifer Blei Stockman, the co-chairwoman of Republican Majority for Choice, told ABC News in May.

"Many people think of him as a moderate," she added. "But when it comes out that he doesn’t want to change this extreme, right-wing Republican platform, the word ‘moderate’ is going to disappear from any description of McCain."

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