A conservative blogger's accusation that Nathan Deal, a Republican candidate for governor, "explicitly voted to fund abortions" earned a "false" rating Wednesday from a newspaper's campaign fact-check website - and an online apology from the blogger.
"They are right. I was wrong," Erick Erickson said Wednesday, alluding to PolitiFact Georgia's "false" rating on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution website. "My apologies to the Deal campaign on this one."
Erickson's apology appeared on his Peach Pundit website several hours after PolitiFact published its Truth-O-Meter rating. Erickson, a Macon city councilman, also is editor of redstate.com, a conservative blog, and is supporting former Secretary of State Karen Handel's bid for governor.
Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said the campaign accepts the apology but encourages Erickson to be more balanced on his website.
"There is no difference between Peach Pundit and Handel's campaign website," Robinson said.
He said Deal is "pro-life" but believes laws should include allow protection of the life of the mother.
Erickson had asserted that Deal, as a congressman in 1993, voted for "legislation to give $500 million to Planned Parenthood to pay for actual abortions," according to PolitiFact. The newspaper site on Wednesday concluded that "funding for actual abortions was never up for debate, and the bill never passed."
Wednesday's flare-up is the latest in a heated debate in the governor's race over which Republican is more opposed to abortion. Handel and Deal are seeking the Republican nomination in an Aug. 10 runoff election. The winner faces Democratic former Gov. Roy Barnes in November.
On Monday, PolitiFact awarded its lowest rating, "pants on fire," to Melanie Crozier, director of the Georgia Right to Life's Political Action Committee.
Crozier previously had said Handel "would have felt like it was OK" to abort former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's son, who has Down syndrome.
The front-running Handel, who has been endorsed by Palin, responded by calling for Crozier and Georgia Right to Life President Dan Becker to resign for what she called a "second incident of disgusting and hateful comments."
She also has said the group labeled her "barren and infertile."
Handel opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother, spokesman Dan McLagan said Wednesday.
He said Handel and her husband, Steve, attempted for 10 years to conceive and that she supports in vitro fertilization and other fertility procedures.
Becker said Wednesday that Georgia Right to Life is not opposed to in vitro fertilization but favors restrictions so that extra fertilized eggs are not discarded. He said Handel's position is not in line with the group's on that distinction.
He attributed the "barren and infertile" statement to a misquote by an Atlanta journalist. He added that he and Crozier, who are volunteers, will not resign unless their board of directors asks them to.
Becker said Handel has attacked the group because she is "on the wrong side" of the abortion issue and is trying to gain sympathy by marginalizing Georgia Right to Life.
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