Mitt Romney takes a position on tax policy, then his staff says something else. Romney takes a position on Iran, then his staff says something else. Romney takes a position on health care, then his staff says something else. Romney takes a position on his own immigration adviser, then his staff says something else.
This new one, however, is a doozy, even by Romney standards.
Mitt Romney today said no abortion legislation is part of his agenda, but he would prohibit federally-funded international nonprofits from providing abortions in other countries.
"There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda," the GOP presidential candidate told The Des Moines Register's editorial board during a meeting today before his campaign rally at a Van Meter farm.
It took all of two hours before Romney's chief spokesperson said the exact opposite, explaining, "Gov. Romney would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life." Asked whether the candidate's position on abortion legislation had changed, Romney's spokesperson would "not answer directly."
Look, even before the predictable walkback, Romney's carefully-worded answer, intended to make him appear less extreme on reproductive rights, was absurd. Romney's platform calls for a constitutional amendment that bans all abortions; Romney said he "absolutely" supports a "Personhood" measure that would ban all abortions and some forms of birth control; and in 2007, Romney boasted that that he'd be "delighted" to sign a bill that would no longer allow abortions "at all, period."
For that matter, Romney intends to fill the federal judiciary with far-right judges who would agree with him on reproductive rights; he would use an executive order to reinstate the Mexico City policy; and he intends to "get rid of" Planned Parenthood by ending the federal aid it's enjoyed with bipartisan support for decades.
As for "legislation," Romney said yesterday that he doesn't see anti-abortion bills as part of his agenda, but if he were in the Oval Office, he'd certainly sign these bills if they were passed by his far-right allies in Congress.
But even putting all of that aside, what are we to make of a candidate who keeps trying to appear mainstream, only to have his aides change the story a couple of hours later?
"It's troubling that Mitt Romney is so willing to play politics with such important issues," Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement. "But we know the truth about where he stands on a woman's right to choose – he's said he'd be delighted to sign a bill banning all abortions, and called Roe v. Wade 'one of the darkest moments in Supreme Court history' while pledging to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn it. Women simply can't trust him."
For those keeping score at home, it now appears that Romney has taken nine different positions on abortion rights over the course of 18 years.
Update: Last year, Romney wrote a piece for the conservative National Review, detailing his "pro-life pledge." Among other things, he vowed to "advocate for and support" anti-abortion legislation.