By Michael Davis
Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Bob Corker said Wednesday he was wrong 12 years ago when he said he did not think abortion was a government issue.
It was wrong to say what I said in 1994. I don’t think anybody in this race is more pro-life than Bob Corker, the former Chattanooga mayor told a Times Free Press editorial board.
Mr. Corker in 1994 said he was personally pro-life. He said he misunderstood the issue and since then has considered the matter to be about protecting life.
His GOP primary opponents Van Hilleary and Ed Bryant, both former congressmen, have criticized Mr. Corker for his changed position on abortion since he last ran for the U.S. Senate in 1994. Mr. Hilleary and Mr. Bryant both have said they oppose abortion rights.
Hilleary campaign manager Jennifer Coxe called Mr. Corker’s claim that no other candidate is more pro-life laughable. She said voters want a senator with a clear, consistent record on abortion and other issues.
This is a pattern of misleading voters, she said.
Andrew Shulman, campaign spokesman for Mr. Bryant, who was endorsed by the anti-abortion group Tennessee Right to Life, said some Tennessee voters are disturbed by Mr. Corker’s abortion stances.
Pro-life conservatives across the state have serious concerns about Bob Corker, and they’ve expressed them to us and they’ve expressed them to Tennessee Right to Life, Mr. Shulman said.
The winner of the Aug. 3 primary is likely to face U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Tenn., on Nov. 7.
Ford campaign spokeswoman Carol Andrews said in a statement, Harold Ford is against abortion on demand. His stance on abortion matches that of Chief Justice John Roberts, and that is to uphold the law of the land.
On Wednesday, Mr. Corker said the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that a woman has a constitutionally protected right to an abortion was judicial overstepping.
Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life, said the organization does not support Mr. Corker as the next U.S. senator from Tennessee. While state finance commissioner, Mr. Corker did not support the addition of an anti-abortion budget amendment, Mr. Harris said.
Todd Womack, political director for the Corker campaign, said it is not the role of the state finance commissioner to add or remove an amendment. He said Mr. Corker did not advocate the last-minute addition of the amendment in 1995 because it had not been vetted in the state General Assembly.
It came at the 11th hour, right before the budget was to be passed, Mr. Womack said. At that point, it was not appropriate to add any amendments to the budget.
Mr. Womack said Mr. Corker encouraged the amendment’s sponsor to introduce the amendment in the next legislative session.
Early voting for the Aug. 3 primary starts on July 14.
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