In what could be a stunning turn of events, during an interview with the Ohio News Network this afternoon Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he would not support the Blunt Amendment, which allows insurers and employers the right to deny health coverage for any service that violates their beliefs or they find morally objectionable; like contraception.
“Blunt-Rubio is being debated I believe later this week. It deals with banning or allowing employers to ban providing female contraception. Have you taken a position on it? He(Santorum) said that he was for that, we’ll talk about personhood in a second,” asked interviewer Jim Heath. “But he’s for that, have taken a position on it?”
“I’m not for the bill,” Romney responded. “But, look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a woman, husband and wife, I’m not going there.”
Romney’s remarks are stunning considering that during last week’s debate the former Massachusetts governor said when asked about the Obama administration’s contraception mandate; ”I don’t think we’ve seen in the history of this country the kind of attack on religious conscience, religious freedom, religious tolerance that we’ve seen under Barack Obama.”
When Heath tweeted Romney’s answer on ONN, commentators immediately jumped on the perceived flip-flop less than 24 hours following Romney escaping Michigan, inches away from a major embarrassment to outspoken social conservative Rick Santorum.
“That’s pretty remarkable,” The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent wrote of the news. “If Romney knew what he was saying, the Senate GOP caucus, which is set to vote on this amendment tomorrow, may feel as if Romney has pulled the rug out from underneath them. And this has become an important issue for conservatives.”
The candidate’s campaign has immediately refuted the reporting of Romney’s answer, and claims “the way the question was asked was confusing.”
This is what spokeswoman Andrea Saul told POLITICO as news of Romney’s answer began to spread:
“Governor Romney supports the Blunt Bill because he believes in a conscience exemption in health care for religious institutions and people of faith.”
Romney responded to the issue during an interview on the Howie Carr Show this afternoon, clearing up that “I didn’t understand his question, of course I support the Blunt amendment.”