Norm Coleman, a former Republican senator from Minnesota and a top surrogate for Mitt Romney, told a group of Jewish voters in Ohio on Monday that Roe v. Wade will not be reversed during a Romney presidency.
The comments were first reported over Twitter on Monday night by Quinn Bowman at Feature Story News, who then posted a video Tuesday morning.
"The reality is, choice is an issue -- for a lot of people, a very important issue," Coleman said at a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting in Beachwood, Ohio. "President Bush was president eight years, Roe v. Wade wasn't reversed. He had two Supreme Court picks, Roe v. Wade wasn't reversed," to which Coleman added, "It's not going to be reversed."
Coleman was responding to a question "regarding what he would say to voters who are worried about the influence of religious conservatives on the Republican Party."
That contradicts what Romney has pledged throughout his presidential bid, during which he has repeatedly stated that he would appoint conservative justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade and "get rid of" funding for Planned Parenthood.
Under the "values" section of his website, Romney's campaign states that the candidate "believes that the right next step is for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade -- a case of blatant judicial activism that took a decision that should be left to the people and placed it in the hands of unelected judges."
But in the last month, Romney has softened his tone on abortion as part of his move to the middle in the final stage of the election. He told the Des Moines Register earlier this month that, if elected president, he would not pursue any anti-abortion legislation -- comments that were immediately walked back by his campaign, which in response to the interview reiterated Romney's pro-life stance.
UPDATE: Oct. 31 -- Coleman has since clarified to the Associated Press that he was not speaking for Mitt Romney when discussing Roe v. Wade at the event.
In an interview on Tuesday, Coleman told The Associated Press he had been speaking on his own behalf, and not for Romney.
He said he meant that the decision is longstanding precedent, and that Republicans would fight over issues like parental notification and partial birth abortion rather than Roe v Wade itself.