Dean Scontras "Will Do Anything To Win"

October 22, 2010 2:50 pm ET — Jamison Foser

Maine Republican congressional candidate Dean Scontras has spent much of the fall trying to reassure voters that he won't do anything to undermine abortion rights, insisting that he won't "mix" his faith with his politics, just two years after insisting he would never compromise, never moderate, and never waiver in his opposition to abortion. 

Here's a sample of Scontras' recent attempts to appear moderate:

  • Bangor Daily News, 10/5/10: "[T]he Catholic, anti-abortion candidate said he would not spend his political capital battling Roe v. Wade. 'It's the law of the land,' Scontras said. 'Why bang the drum about it? I'm not going to be able to change it.'"
  • Portland Press Herald, 9/20/10: "'I am pro-life,' Scontras said, 'but I'm also a realist that (a woman's right to choose) is the law of the land.'"
  • Kennebec Journal, 10/22/10: "Two years after running in the Republican primary as a candidate who opposed abortion rights, civil unions and gay marriage, Scontras said he will steer clear of social issues and abide by current law. He said he is a pro-life Catholic but would 'never mix my faith with my politics.'"

That probably won't convince many Mainers who remember Scontras' 2008 campaign, when he opposed abortion even in cases of rape and incest, leading Michael Heath of the Maine Family Policy Council to gush that Scontras "is a 'no exceptions' pro life candidate. He doesn't even take the rape or incest exception."

Scontras' current attempts to downplay his opposition to abortion are particularly striking in light of his past insistence that he'd never do anything of the kind. During his 2008 campaign, Scontras portrayed himself as a principled candidate who would never waver in his beliefs, drawing contrasts with politicians who sacrifice core values for political expediency and "do anything to win."

Here's a January 12, 2008 Scontras speech at a pro-life rally, for example:

Believe me when I say that most people I meet are very happy to hear that they will have a pro-life candidate on the ballot. Some people, mostly political pundit-types, ask me why - "Why would you run as a pro-life candidate - You might lose?"

Still others, and mostly those of you who are solidly pro-life, view my declaration a bit more skeptically, as possibly a purely political move. I was eager to seek support of this community, and frankly, I guess I did take for granted the fact that I would have to earn your support. After all, the pro-life community has often been misled, even taken advantage of at times by pundits and politicians who place politics before principle. Some people will do anything to win. Anything.

Even in my race I am facing a primary opponent who is taking money from pro-abortion groups, from groups who have as their goal the removal of the pro-life plank from the Party Platform. I share the concerns of those of you who might require some reassurance before you put your support behind another politician claiming to be pro-life. When you ask me, "Dean, are you unequivocally, without exception, for life?" I will answer, "Yes, I am!"

[...]

To you who ask me "Dean, will you speak up when our culture of life is under assault at our schools, in our towns and in our country?" To you I say, "Yes, I will!"

[...]

I am always taken aback when people on the campaign trail come up and whisper to me, "Thank you for saying you are pro-life." They feel the need to whisper that.

Well, today is the day we shout it. We are pro-life!

In March of 2008, Scontras told Maine Republicans "I will not compromise. ... I will not moderate. And I will not appease on my way to victory in November."

And on May 2, 2008, Scontras again portrayed himself as a man of principle: "I will not compromise on my way to victory this November! ... I have never considered bending my principles for political expediency."

Scontras' current efforts to appear moderate on abortion can't comfort pro-choice voters who know what he really believes. They can't comfort conservative abortion opponents who he promised to stand with unequivocally. And they can't comfort voters who respected Scontras' principled refusal to "do anything to win" even if they disagreed with his views. Not after he's spent the last several weeks proving that he's exactly the kind of craven politician he used to denounce.

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