The video is below, and it’s the last question he’s asked (he gets a number of decent questions and gives some pretty good answers in the first few minutes, but the real fun starts right at the 8-minute mark). Paul was in Milford, New Hampshire today giving a speech to a crowd he’s absolutely going to need to convert into his voters if he has a chance to win – he’s got to carry New Hampshire or he’s sunk and he all but admits that during the press conference, and he got hit with a question from a local reporter about an attack the Democrat National Committee levied on him on the abortion issue.
What happened was that an AP reporter had asked Paul about his previous sponsorship of a personhood amendment, and whether somebody who supports personhood could also support exemptions to an abortion ban for things like rape, incest and the rest of the Usual Suspects. That’s where the abortion debate always seems to fall – a Republican politician says he’s pro-life, which is a position the majority of the public generally says they agree with in poll after poll, and then he’s immediately sucked into the trash compactor that is the endless parade of tough hypotheticals.
Paul’s response to that question largely contained a shrug. “The thing is about abortion—and about a lot of things—is that I think people get tied up in all these details of, sort of, you’re this or this or that, or you’re hard and fast (on) one thing or the other,” he said to the AP reporter. “I’ve supported both bills with and without (exceptions), you know. In general, I am pro-life. So I will support legislation that advances and shows that life is special and deserves protection.”
The DNC put out an attack e-mail against Paul with his answer, either to make him look like a flip-flopper on the issue or a right-wing nut for having an absolutist position; it doesn’t really matter.
But in Milford, he was asked about the issue and his position again, this time by a local reporter who mentioned the DNC’s attack. “Should there be any exemptions or not?” asked the local wag.
Paul wasn’t interested in inhabiting so tight a box, so he changed the conversation as radically as he could have.
“What’s the DNC say?” was his answer.
And after the laughter that followed, he went further with an identification of how abortion is used against conservatives and Republcians and a demand that the issue be addressed differently.
“Here’s the deal—we always seen to have the debate waaaaay over here on what are the exact details of exemptions, or when it starts,” said Paul, waving his hands to the left. “Why don’t we ask the DNC: Is it okay to kill a seven-pound baby in the uterus? You go back and you ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz if she’s OK with killing a seven-pound baby that is not born yet. Ask her when life begins, and you ask Debbie when it’s okay to protect life. When you get an answer from Debbie, get back to me.”
One of the most irritating experiences in recent times has been the almost universal reduction of Republican politicians to mush on the abortion issue by asking about the rape victim he would force to carry her rapist’s child. Paul shows the way to break that cycle and put the real outrage where it belongs – not in the tiny, almost hypothetical number of hard cases that could be handled by people of good faith but in the millions of human beings being exterminated without any such mitigating circumstances. And the more novel the answers bad Republican politicians give, the worse the electoral consequences. Todd Akin proved that.
Instead, Paul was smart enough to force the media to place scrutiny on the Democrats’ hard cases on abortion. No Republican should ever get an abortion question without parroting everything he just said.
When the Democrats and their pals in the media get tired of hearing “seven-pound baby,” maybe they’ll stop trying to trap Republicans with dishonest attacks on abortion.