U.S. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, whose campaign was rejuvenated by his stellar debate performance, was in hot water Wednesday over his comments on abortion and a former Navy SEAL killed in militants' attack on U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Romney made the comments on abortion Tuesday in an interview with Des Moines Register, an Iowan newspaper, saying "there's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda," should he be elected president, an apparent shift on an issue the reelection campaign of President Barack Obama has used against him to win over female voters.
The comment made waves Wednesday, with conservatives reminding him to honor his pro-life pledge and Democrats accusing him of flip-flopping.
The Obama campaign was first to react. Spokeswoman Lis Smith said "we know the truth about where he stands on a woman's right to choose: he's said he'd be delighted to sign a bill banning all abortions, and called Roe v. Wade 'one of the darkest moments in Supreme Court history,' while pledging to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn it. Women simply can't trust him."
She was referring to comments made by Romney as recently as in a Republican presidential debate in January, Romney said the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark ruling that legalized abortion.
Campaigning for Obama in Las Vegas, former president Bill Clinton also mocked Romney, saying to laughter and applause "Wow, here's old moderate Mitt. Where have you been, boy, I missed you all these last two years."
Conservatives, who never fully trusted Romney because of his moderate past, reminded him of a no abortion pledge he has made.
Anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List on Wednesday distributed an article Romney wrote last summer vowing to prohibit federal funding for Planned Parenthood, while backing legislation that would "protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion."
"We have full confidence that as president, Gov. Romney will stand by the pro-life commitments," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List.
Romney on Wednesday tried to soothe conservative anxiety, saying he would be "a pro-life president," and would make sure Planned Parenthood wouldn't get federal funding.
But the abortion comment was hardly the only political headache for Romney. In his campaign events for the past two days, he started telling the story of Glen Doherty, a former Navy SEAL killed in the Sept. 11 attack on Benghazi consulate. Romney knew Doherty personally, and he told the story of their acquaintance as well as the inspiration he got from Doherty Tuesday while campaigning in Van Meter, Iowa. He has since told the story twice, both during campaign events in Ohio.
However, Doherty's mother, Barbara Doherty, wasn't very happy about it. She told a Boston TV station that "I don't trust Romney. He shouldn't make my son's death part of his political agenda."
The Romney campaign said Wednesday the former Massachusetts governor will no longer tell the story at campaign events.
Romney has been closing his poll number gap with Obama nationwide after outperforming the incumbent last Wednesday in the first presidential debate. Democrats have been accusing him of trying to shift to the center ever since.