McCain: Contemplating a "pro-choice" running mate

The Weekly Standard has a story from a campaign plane Q&A with John McCain in which he says he'd be open to choosing an abortion rights advocate like Tom Ridge. Analysts said McCain appeared to be floating a trial balloon, and was alsofacing political realities, such as the need towin the keystone state of Pennsylvania:

IN A WIDE-RANGING INTERVIEW aboard his campaign plane this morning, John McCain said that he is open to choosing a pro-choice running mate and named former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge as someone who merits serious consideration despite his support for abortion rights. McCain also criticized Barack Obama's presidential campaign for attempts to "politicize" the debate over Georgia and criticized President Bush for failing to recognize the true nature of Vladimir Putin."I think that the pro-life position is one of the important aspects or fundamentals of the Republican Party," McCain said. "And I also feel that--and I'm not trying to equivocate here--that Americans want us to work together. You know, Tom Ridge is one of the great leaders and he happens to be pro-choice. And I don't think that that would necessarily rule Tom Ridge out."McCain's comments came in response to a question about comments he made to several reporters during the Republican primary season. During that exchange, McCain was asked whether New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg would make a good running mate. McCain offered strong words of praise for Bloomberg but said that Bloomberg's position on abortion--he is also pro-choice--would make it difficult to choose him as a vice presidential candidate.In the interview this morning, McCain suggested that Ridge would be more palatable to social conservatives than Bloomberg."I think it's a fundamental tenet of our party to be pro-life but that does not mean we exclude people from our party that are pro-choice. We just have a--albeit strong--butjust it's a disagreement. [sic] And I think Ridge is a great example of that. Far moreso than Bloomberg, because Bloomberg is pro-gay rights, pro, you know, a number of other issues."Of the four individuals most frequently mentioned as potential McCain runningmates--Joe Lieberman, Tom Ridge, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty--Lieberman and Ridge are pro-choice and Romney, by his own account, was pro-choice until at least November 2004. (During the primary, McCain's campaign challenged this claim by highlighting a May 2005 press conference in which Romney said he was committed to the "status quo" on "abortion and choice.")

How does this affect the discourse of several recent posts here? Or does it?

David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.

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