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April 22, 2004
Drudge: Kerry Flipped On Abortion ... Long Ago

The Drudge Report has published a "developing" story that John Kerry has flip-flopped on abortion during his political career -- but the effect of this flavor of waffle will be muted or nonexistent:

Kerry claimed in an interview he was "opposed to abortion."

Kerry told the LOWELL SUN in October, 1972: "I would say also that it's a tragic day in the lives of everybody when abortion is looked on as an alternative to birth control or as an alternative to having a child. I think that's wrong. It should be the very last thing if it has to be anything, and I say that not just because I'm opposed to abortion but because I think that's common sense."

Kerry declared: "I think the question of abortion is one that should be left for the states to decide."

Drudge also reports that Kerry spoke with Sun reporter John Mullins in 1975, telling him that liberals spent too much time fighting for abortion rights, draft-dodger amnesty, and against the death penalty when they should focus on larger issues like crime and the economy. The first quote came before the Roe v Wade decision and sounds like Kerry endorsed a political resolution to abortion rather than a legal approach. The latter quote indicates almost a complete indifference to the question.

However, while Matt Drudge apparently considers this a bombshell, it likely will be little more than a firecracker in this campaign, and its effect on voters will be muted if not non-existent. Calling this a flip-flop stretches the concept just a bit; Kerry hardly endorsed a pro-life agenda in either instance. His first quote isn't too far off from Bill Clinton's expressed view that abortions should be "safe, legal, and rare," although Clinton never went so far as to say they were "wrong". By 1975, he couldn't be bothered to even go that far, instead chiding liberals for allowing abortion and other controversial issues to distract them from issues that Kerry felt actually affected the majority of voters. In fact, it's the closest thing to common sense that I've yet heard from John Kerry, and had they followed his political advice, they might be in better shape today.

More importantly, a revelation that Kerry wasn't a big fan of abortion 30 years ago won't hurt him with his base, won't help him with Bush's, nor will it convince swing voters either way. Whatever Kerry said to the Lowell Sun in 1972, he's firmly supportive of abortion rights now, and he's not attempting to be nuanced about it in the least. Drudge notes that Kerry will be appearing at a abortion-rights rally tomorrow in DC. Perhaps this story may lessen enthusiasm amongst a few Kerry supporters, but I rather doubt it.

Anyone who considers abortion a key issue has already decided for whom to vote in the presidential election. The people who don't have it high up on their radar screen won't care that his position has evolved over time, which makes as much sense as any other explanation.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 22, 2004 5:34 PM

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