Pro-Life Democrat Seeking Party Chair Sees Strong Abortion Opposition

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 17, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Democrat Seeking Party Chair Sees Strong Abortion Opposition

Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 17, 2005

St. Louis, MO ( — A pro-life Democrat seeking to become the chairman of the national Democratic Party encountered strong opposition at the second of four regional meetings party leaders are holding before February’s vote.

Over the weekend, former Indiana Congressman Tim Roemer criticized those abortion advocates who are opposing his candidacy simply because of the issue of abortion.

Roemer said he was hoping to spur an inter-party "conversation" of key issues critical to its success but is "having trouble doing this because of negative campaigning and litmus tests."

"I like a good fight," Roemer told meeting participants. "But don’t put my arms behind me. Give me a chance to talk about my values. And don’t litmus-test me."

Roemer’s aides told CNN the former member of the 9/11 panel was upset that opponents were distributing a profile of his voting record showing him out of step with the party on various issues, such as abortion.

Aides said they did not know who wrote the memo or whether it came from the campaign of one of Roemer’s opponents.

Roemer has been dogged by criticism from some Democrats of his pro-life position. During his tenure in Congress, Roemer had a 94% pro-life voting record on pro-life issues according to the National Right to Life Committee, opposing the group only on the subject of campaign finance reform.

Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman Phil Johnston continued his strong public opposition to Roemer at the meeting saying, "It would be extremely foolish if the DNC were to be led by a chair who agrees with the Bush administration’s position on abortion."

Roemer responded, according to a CNN report, "That makes me mad. And I’m going to fight. Because I’m part of this great party."

Roemer said Democrats should learn from Republicans, who have elected some abortion advocates and allowed others to take leadership roles.

"Republicans have a big tent; why can’t we?" he asked.

Meanwhile, other candidates for the chairmanship came to Roemer’s defense.

Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb said party members should remember that "George Bush is the enemy" and former presidential candidate Howard Dean said he knows what it’s like to be the target of other Democrats.

But, former Rep. Martin Frost of Texas, told Democrats at the gathering that, "We cannot walk away from our base. We cannot walk away from our commitment to … a woman’s right to choose."

Dean said, over the weekend, that he will not run for president in 2008 should he be elected chairman of the Democratic Party.

Other candidates include Simon Rosenberg, head of the centrist New Democratic Network; former Ohio state party chairman David Leland; and Donnie Fowler, a longtime party activists and campaign manager for retired Gen. Wesley Clark’s presidential bid.

All of the other candidates, apart from Roemer, support abortion.

Democrats will vote February 12 on a new chairman.