Romney’s Planned Parenthood past

ROMNEY’S PLANNED PARENTHOOD PAST…. Following up on an earlier item, after eight likely GOP presidential candidates announced their support for blocking all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, Mitt Romney’s camp quickly followed up. It wanted to make sure National Review knew the former Massachusetts governor is on board with the anti-PP agenda, too.

It got me thinking. Wasn’t there a brief dust-up a few years ago about Romney attending a Planned Parenthood fundraiser? As it turns out, yes, there was. This ABC News report ran on December 18, 2007, in the midst of the heated GOP presidential nominating process.

ABC News’ Rick Klein Reports: Mitt Romney attended a fund-raising reception for Planned Parenthood in 1994 in conjunction with a $150 donation his wife made to the organization — notwithstanding Romney’s contention that he had “no recollection” of the circumstances under which his wife gave money to the abortion-rights group.

In the photograph obtained by ABC News, Romney and his wife, Ann, are shown in a yellow-and-white tent chatting with local political activists, including Nicki Nichols Gamble, who was then president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.

Nichols Gamble — whose back is the camera in the photograph — told ABC that the event was a Planned Parenthood fundraising “house party” in Cohasset, Mass., in June 1994. At the time, Romney, R-Mass., was locked in a tight Senate campaign with Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and was touting his support for abortion rights.

That event, Nichols Gamble said, was the occasion where Ann Romney wrote her $150 check — drafted on a joint checking account she had with her husband — to Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts.

In fairness, 1994 was obviously quite a while ago, and Romney claims he doesn’t even remember being at the fundraiser. It’s also worth noting that the flap didn’t do any significant damage to Romney’s campaign in 2008, and was pretty much forgotten soon after.

But in the last cycle, the right’s interest in Planned Parenthood was fleeting. In 2011, this has apparently become a litmus-test issue, of great interest to the GOP base, and good conservatives are expected to fight to eliminate any and all support for the family-planning organization.

And Mitt Romney attended a Planned Parenthood fundraiser and his wife a cut a check to the organization.

The point here is that things Romney got away with four years ago may prove far more damaging now, given how much more extreme the Republican has become. Voters and his competitors didn’t much care about Romney’s support for an individual health care mandate, for example, but now they will. Romney’s attendance at a Planned Parenthood event was quickly forgotten last time, but seems likely to be more problematic in this go-around.

Romney may very well preserve, but I can’t help but think the GOP base’s tolerance for his background may prove a tougher sell. We’re talking about a former pro-choice governor who supported gay rights, gun control, and combating climate change, who distanced himself from Reagan, and who attended a Planned Parenthood fundraiser. His sole accomplishment served as a blueprint for President Obama’s health care policy.

Romney has managed to flip-flop on practically every issue I can think of, and I guess we can now add support for Planned Parenthood to the list. Maybe the Republican rank-and-file will buy the new version and forgive the old, but I suspect it’s going to be harder than Romney realizes.