Lakewood, CO—There are a couple of takeaways from Tuesday night's rejection of the 'personhood' measure in Mississippi. One, Colorado is not alone in its repudiation of these extremist measures. Voters in Colorado and Mississippi, two very different states have said "No" by double-digit margins. And two, this vote scares the hell out of former Gov. Mitt Romney because it is a huge liability in the general election.
In a bid for the social conservative base he's losing to Gov. Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and maybe former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Romney told talk show host and former candidate Mike Huckabee he 'absolutely' supports 'life begins at conception', the basis for the multi-state 'personhood' push. As governor in 2005, Romney vetoed a bill that would have expanded access to emergency contraception for rape survivors, a practice that would also be banned under the Mississippi proposal. Since emergency contraception can work by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg, it doesn't square with 'life begins at conception', as Romney noted in his veto.
This despite Romney's telling NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, during his 2002 run for governor, that he could soften Republican opposition to reproductive rights and would support increasing the availability of emergency contraception for Massachusetts women. Romney's positions on choice and reproductive rights are his attempt at being a little bit pregnant.Huffington Post's Sam Stein noted on Twitter that he directly asked the Romney camp in the days leading up to the Mississippi vote if Romney endorsed the proposal. Romney refused to answer those questions, as well as inquiries from the New York Times. Now that 'personhood' has failed in Mississippi he is desperately backpedaling—or Buckpedaling, in Colorado parlance. Buckpedaling is named for Senate candidate Ken Buck, who embraced Colorado's 'personhood' ballot measure in the Republican primary but then flip-flopped when it became a liability in the general. He lost.
'Personhood' proponents, undeterred by continued rejection—fanatics usually aren't—say they plan to try again in a number of battleground states in 2012, including Colorado (third time's the charm!), Ohio, Florida, Nevada, and Montana. And they have some allies in Congressional Republicans.
As noted by Nick Baumann in Mother Jones,
Nearly identical language appears in three bills that have been endorsed by scores of Republicans in Congress, including top House committee chairmen Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)…. Sixty-three House Republicans, or over a quarter of the GOP conference, are cosponsors of HR 212, Rep. Paul Broun's (R-Ga.) "Sanctity of Human Life Act," which includes language that directly parallels that of the Mississippi personhood amendment.
Mississippi Republican Senator Roger Wicker has introduced S.91, a Senate version of the 'personhood' House bills, and it currently has sixteen Republican co-sponsors, including "moderate" Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Richard Burr of North Carolina.
The Republican Party, and the Republican presidential primary, remains captive to its right-wing base in its embrace of the anti-choice, anti-family, anti-privacy 'personhood' proposals. But when these proposals have been rejected by voters as diverse as those in Colorado and Mississippi, it tells you something about the mainstream electorate leading into 2012. That is why Mitt Romney wouldn't answer questions before the vote, and why he is running away now that it's over.