Democrats have produced a web video accusing GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney of wanting to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood– an accusation the Romney campaign claims is false and taken out of context.
The ad features Romney speaking to St. Louis TV station KDSK , which headlines the interview on its website: “Mitt Romney: Planned Parenthood, we’re going to get rid of that.”
In context, Romney was clearly talking about eliminating any federal funding of Planned Parenthood, not attempting to eliminate the private organization itself.
Listing programs he would cut to help reduce spending and the deficit, the former Massachusetts governor said, “Of course you get rid of Obamacare, that’s the easy one, but there are others: Planned Parenthood, we’re gonna get rid of that. The subsidy for Amtrak, I would eliminate that. The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, both excellent programs, but we can’t afford to borrow money to pay for these things.”
Senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom clarified Tuesday night that Romney’s plan was not “getting rid of the organization.” Instead, he pointed out in an interview with CNN, “they have other sources of funding besides government appropriations.”
Still, as Rick Santorum stole the spotlight with his primary wins in the Deep South, deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter launched an assault on Romney over his comment, circulating the KDSK video in an email blast to supporters.
“Mitt Romney’s comments today that he would ‘get rid of’ Planned Parenthood show how low he is willing to go to pander to the most extreme elements of the Republican base,” Cutter wrote. ”Planned Parenthood is a vital health care provider for millions of American women, giving them affordable access to life-saving services like mammograms and cervical cancer screenings.”
Democratic National Committee chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz also joined the attack, saying Romney was attempting to “pander to the far right wing of his party.” Planned Parenthood meanwhile called his proposal to cut off federal funds “dangerous and out of step with what most Americans want.”
Recent polls do show majorities of Americans oppose cuts to funding for Planned Parenthood.
A national Quinnipiac University poll found 53 percent opposed to ending federal aid to the clinics under Title X, while 43 percent support such a move. The survey, conducted Feb. 21-28, has a margin of error of 2.3 points.
Similarly, a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll conducted over the same period found 53 percent of Americans consider cuts to Title X funding “mostly or totally unacceptable,” while 45 percent disagreed. The survey’s margin of error was 3.1 points.
“Mitt Romney believes it is morally irresponsible to spend more money than we take in, and he is certainly not willing to borrow money from China to fund our nation’s leading abortion provider,” Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul told ABC News. “The real question should be why President Obama thinks that is the right course for our nation.”
The Romney campaign said in its budget blueprint last year that eliminating Title X family planning funding would save taxpayers $300 million.