Republican Party chairman candidate Maria Cino became the final candidate for the national party chairman position to interview with the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life political group.
Her interview follows concerns from among pro-life advocates that Cino, who says at length that she is pro-life, served as a member of the board of directors of the WISH List, a pro-abortion organization that focuses on electing pro-abortion Republican women to top federal offices.
Cino also made several donations to WISH List over the years covering the late 1990s and the very early part of this past decade and SBA List president Marjorie Dannelfeser asked her about that.
Cino explained that she was involved with the National Republican Congressional Committee in the early 1990s following the defeat of pro-life President George Bush and that the NRCC struggled financially but weathered the storm in part because of donors from the WISH List. She credited the pro-abortion organization with ironically helping to elect a Republican Congress in 1994 that was a majority pro-life.
“In 1997, they asked me to help them,” Cino said. “I told them that I was, in fact, as they knew, pro-life. They understood that. And they asked me to help them with women candidates. I did that for one year.”
“My involvement with WISH List was for one reason pure and simple, to use WISH List as a vehicle against Emily’s List (a pro-abortion Democratic outfit) to elect Republican women,” she said. “After a year, it became clear to me that, unlike the 80s and 90s, we had alot of pro-life women that were now running and we needed to get more women to run.”
She said she began to limit her involvement with WISH List and founded VIEW PAC, a group that made it possible to give to pro-life women as well.
“I wanted a vehicle to help more of the pro-life females who were beginning to run,” she said.
Dannenfelser asked a follow up question about how, with her deep pro-life conviction, how could she set aside those views to work directly with a group that advocates for abortion and elected only pro-abortion candidates.
“I didn’t look at it as a pro-choice or a pro-life organization,” Cino said. “I have been committed for the last 20-some odd years to electing Republican women. Rightfully or wrongfully, I looked at it purely from a standpoint of electing Republican women.”
In terms of her pro-life views in general, Cino told Dannenfelser she has a life-long pro-life view.
“I am in fact pro-life, I believe that life begins at conception and goes through natural death,” Cino said. “That has been something I have believed since the beginning of Maria. I say that because of my faith and because of my family.”
Cino goes on in the interview to describe her Catholic faith and Italian ethnicity as influential on her abortion views and talked about how she has worked with candidates she has supported in the past to work closely with pro-life organizations like the National Right to Life Committee, Eagle Forum, Family Research Council and its state affiliates.
She said pro-life groups would be “key components” of any plan she would oversee as the Republican Party chair to elect a pro-life president to defeat pro-abortion President Barack Obama in 2012.
Current Republican Party chairman Micahel Steele conducted his interview this week with SBA.
Steele’s opponents include Wisconsin Republican Chairman Reince Priebus; Saul Anuzis, a pro-life former Michigan Republican chairman; and Gentry Collins, who served as RNC political director until last month — when he resigned and issued a scathing report on Steele’s tenure and financial and fundraising problems.
They, along with Ann Wagner of Missouri, former co-chair of the RNC, interviewed with the SBA list and set forth clear pro-life positions.
“I believe, absolutely, that life begins at the moments of conception,” Priebus said. “It’s a core principle of mine.”
“If I was to be elected chairman of the RNC that would be something that I would have an even bigger obligation to uphold the position I have on abortion. And I think it would be a huge disappointment to God if I didn’t,” Priebus pledged. “I am a 100 percent, Psalm 139 pro-life Republican.”
According to a Politico report, Collins “used the question to pivot to his criticism of Steele, arguing that a stronger RNC will be better able to support anti-abortion candidates” while Anuzis “pointed to his past support of anti-abortion groups during his time as chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.”
Anuzis said, as a Catholic, he believes human life “begins at conception and ends at natural death.”
SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser also asked each of the candidates if he had contributed to a “pro-choice organization.” All three said they had not.
“Never, and I never would,” Collins responded. “I am pro-life. My wife and I are devoutly Catholic.”
Former Missouri GOP Chair Ann Wagner also interviewed with SBA and said being pro-life was “part of the fabric of who I am,” adding, “It’s how I was raised.”