NBC's Williams Parrots Obama Campaign Spin That Romney Changed Abortion Stance

At the top of Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams recited Obama campaign talking points as he proclaimed: "What Mitt Romney said about abortion that sure sounds like a change."

Moments later, Williams attempted to frame Romney's innocuous comments on the subject to the Des Moines Register as a misstep: "Mitt Romney is trying to take advantage of a bounce coming off the last debate, but it was something he said on the subject of abortion that is getting a lot of the attention today and tonight. It's where we begin tonight..."

In the report that followed, correspondent Peter Alexander did his best to suggest a Romney reversal on the issue: "On Monday, Romney seemed to soften his position on abortion during an interview with the Des Moines Register." A clip was played of the remark in question: "There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda."

Alexander then forwarded the Obama campaign attack line: "[They] jumped on that comment, writing, 'We know the truth about where he stands on a woman's right to choose,' pointing to Romney's past statements on the issue, like this from 2007." This sound bite followed of Romney: "So I'd like to see Roe v. Wade overturned, and allow the states and the elected representatives of the people and the people themselves have the ability to put in place pro-life legislation."

Notice that Romney said absolutely nothing about creating any federal legislation as president to ban abortion.

After touting the supposed evidence of Romney's non-existent flip-flop, Alexander declared that the Republican nominee had been "pressed to clarify."  


Here is a full transcript of Alexander's October 10 report:

7:00PM ET TEASE:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: On our broadcast tonight, the fight on the campaign trail, and the face-off coming tomorrow night. Also this evening, what Mitt Romney said about abortion that sure sounds like a change.

7:01PM ET SEGMENT:

WILLIAMS: While millions of Americans are looking forward to the Biden/Ryan debate tomorrow night as the next big television event of this election season, at the top of the ticket and on the campaign trail today, the work and the travel, the speeches continued. Mitt Romney is trying to take advantage of a bounce coming off the last debate, but it was something he said on the subject of abortion that is getting a lot of the attention today and tonight. It's where we begin tonight with NBC's Peter Alexander, traveling with the Romney campaign in Sidney, Ohio. Peter, good evening.

PETER ALEXANDER: Brian, good evening to you. Today Mitt Romney covered more than 228 miles on his campaign bus, making three stops, trying to build on his momentum from last week's debate and put this key swing state back in play. On the offensive again today in Ohio, Mitt Romney touched all the political bases at his first stop in Mount Vernon, a manufacturing plant in a must-win state owned by a woman, who has something in common with Romney's wife, Ann.

MITT ROMNEY: Karen and my wife are both breast cancer survivors.

ALEXANDER: The Romney campaign hopes the latest national poll is the sign of a trend, a post-debate surge showing Romney's pulled even among likely women voters. On Monday, Romney seemed to soften his position on abortion during an interview with the Des Moines Register.

ROMNEY: There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda.

ALEXANDER: The Obama campaign jumped on that comment, writing, "We know the truth about where he stands on a woman's right to choose," pointing to Romney's past statements on the issue, like this from 2007:

ROMNEY: So I'd like to see Roe v. Wade overturned, and allow the states and the elected representatives of the people and the people themselves have the ability to put in place pro-life legislation.

ALEXANDER: Today in Ohio, Romney was pressed to clarify.

ROMNEY: I think I've said time and again, I'm a pro-life candidate, I'll be a pro-life president.

ALEXANDER: Meanwhile, in a radio interview, the President offered his own explanation for his lackluster debate performance.

BARACK OBAMA: I think it's fair to say I was just too polite.

ALEXANDER: Bill Clinton had his own analysis, jumping up and down while he mocked Romney in Las Vegas Monday.

BILL CLINTON: I had a different reaction to that first debate than a lot of people did. I mean, I thought, wow, here's old moderate Mitt. Where you been, boy? "I don't have that tax plan I had for the last two years. You gonna believe me or your lying eyes here, come on?"

ALEXANDER: But the focus now, tomorrow night's vice presidential showdown. 69-year-old Joe Biden, a debate veteran, and Paul Ryan, 27 years his junior, with no experience in a national debate, recalling match-ups with similar generational differences. Jennifer Granholm played Sarah Palin in Vice President Biden's 2008 debate prep.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM: Instead of it being risky that Joe Biden is more seasoned and Paul Ryan is younger, they both have strengths that they bring to this conversation.

ALEXANDER: And Paul Ryan arrived in Kentucky late this evening, Brian, greeted by his wife and his mother and an enthusiastic crowd. His opponent, Vice President Biden, will land there tomorrow, after resting up tonight in his own bed in Delaware.

WILLIAMS: Peter Alexander starting us off. Sidney, Ohio tonight, after a 200-mile plus journey by bus today.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC