Pro-Life Democrat Makes Party Chair Bid Official, Abortion Fight Begins

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 10, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Democrat Makes Party Chair Bid Official, Abortion Fight Begins Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 10, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Former Indiana congressman Tim Roemer, a pro-life Democrat, made his bid for the party’ chairmanship official. His candidacy begins the inter-party fight that is expected to take place between those who say the party has become too extreme on the issue of abortion and pro-abortion groups who fear compromise.

Roemer, a Catholic who served on the 9/11 commission, compiled a strong pro-life voting record as a member of Congress. But, he understands he can’t change the Democratic party’s pro-abortion position overnight.

"I’m not asking to rewrite the platform," he said on ABC’s "This Week," where he announced his bid for the leadership post.

"We have a majority of our party, an overwhelming majority of our party, that is pro-choice, and I respect that," Roemer told ABC News. "But I think we should not only be more inclusive on this issue, especially in the Midwest and the South if a candidate has those views, we should have them in our party."

Roemer says the party’s position in favor of abortion cost it seats in Congress and has alienated it with Catholic voters, churchgoing blacks and Hispanics.

Expressing the strong opposition Roemer will face from abortion advocates, former NARAL president Kate Michelman, told the Associated Press that "the election of such a staunchly anti-choice leader would signal that the Democratic Party is retreating from one of its core principles."

Gloria Feldt, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, accuses Roemer of rejecting Democrats’ "core belief" in unlimited abortion.

Over 400 Democratic Party leaders are expected to vote in April.

Roemer was in Atlanta, Georgia over the weekend for the first of four regional gatherings where candidates will promote themselves.

He said he has had a tremendous reception so far. However, he told the Indianapolis Star newspaper that he understands abortion may be his biggest obstacle. Roemer acknowledged that "some delegates say that it might be."

"Others say we need a bigger tent," Roemer told the newspaper. "Others say they’ve got a litmus test. We shall see."

Also seeking the chairmanship nod are former Texas Rep. Martin Frost, party activists Simon Rosenberg and Donnie Fowler, former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and former Ohio Democratic Party chairman David Leland. Howard Dean, a former Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont governor, is considering whether to join the race.

All of the candidates, except Roemer, back abortion.