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October 13, 2010 at 4:53 PM

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Democrats' delight in attacking Rossi on abortion

Posted by Jonathan Martin

In the closing weeks of the campaign, Sen. Patty Murray's campaign and the state Democratic Party is hitting Republican Dino Rossi with the wedge issue of abortion. Murray, staunchly pro-choice, just came out with an ad highlighting Rossi's record opposing abortion, citing as source material a 1992 speech by Rossi. In it, he seems to suggest that "homes for unwed mothers" are an option for women that the anti-abortion movement should support.

On Wednesday, Gov. Chris Gregoire and Cecile Richards, CEO of Planned Parenthood Action Fund (and daughter of the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards) hit the issue hard in an afternoon press conference to promote Murray. Gregoire noted that Rossi preferred to change the subject when abortion came up during their two gubernatorial races.

"Whenever we would talk about women's health issues, his answer would always be, 'That's not an issue for me, I'm not running for the Supreme Court.' " But as a U.S. senator, Rossi would vote on federal judiciary nominations, including those for U.S. Supreme Court. "When you take a look at his record, it's very clear," Gregoire said. "His positions on women's health would really roll us back 100 years."

Rossi turns to his Catholic faith in answering questions about abortion, calling his pro-life beliefs "a matter of conscience." He has said he's against abortion, except in the case of rape, incest and where the life of the mother is threatened.

He was involved in the unsuccessful 1991 campaign against Initiative 120, and, more recently, opposed allowing Plan B to be sold over the counter, an option that Murray was critical in pushing on the federal level.

I'm waiting for a response back from the Rossi campaign, but Gregoire, who takes visible delight in tweaking her old adversary, is skeptical that I'll get much from them.

"Why isn't he just open and honest with the voters? Because if they knew his positions, he wouldn't even be in this race," she said.

UPDATE: Rossi's campaign spokeswoman, Jennifer Morris, got back to me with a statement.

"It's not surprising that two Democrats like Gov. Gregoire and Sen. Murray with failed records on controlling spending and creating jobs would try to change the subject. While Dino's running to fix the economy, control spending, and rein in government, his pro-life position is clear. Unlike Sen. Murray, Dino will oppose taxpayer funded abortion and support parental notification laws."

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