The media keeps asking GOP presidential candidates whether they would be willing to shut down the government in order to defund Planned Parenthood. Rather than fall for this gotcha question, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul have been turning this question around and telling the media to ask Democrats whether they would be willing to shut down the government to defend Planned Parenthood and its gruesome practices.
The burden is on the Democrats right now. The public is shocked at the practices of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood generates a profit every year and doesn’t need taxpayer dollars. There are thousands of community health centers that provide women’s health services and only 700 Planned Parenthood clinics, which do abortions and referrals to real doctors and that’s about it. Republicans need to stop playing defense and go on offense. Which position is more extreme — shutting down the government to prevent funding of barbaric and criminal actions or to preserve it?
BILL HEMMER: Now you go to a backup plan [on Planned Parenthood]. What is it?
RAND PAUL: Well I’ve always voted to defund Planned Parenthood and will continue to do so. I think the power of the purse is something we should use. In fact, that’s a congressional prerogative, and the problem is we haven’t really tried hard enough. So I’ll keep pressing on. We’ll try to attach it to appropriations bills. The thing is that it is the responsibility – it’s not unusual for Congress to give rules to the president on how to spend money. That’s what we’re supposed to do.
HEMMER: Now would you shut down the government over this? If it comes to that, come the fall?
PAUL: Well, I think that’s a matter of perspective. I don’t want to shut down the government, but I do want to give instructions to the president on how to spend money, not just on Planned Parenthood, but on a thousand different items. I don’t want to fund – still – Obamacare. I don’t want to fund all the massive regulations that he’s putting forward. So really the choice is, is the president willing to shut down government. But there’s a lot of other complicated factors. We have to decide, can we get anything out of the Senate? To get anything out of the Senate requires six Democrats to vote for it. So far the Democrats are stonewalling every appropriations bill. It looks as if the Democrats want a showdown, and they may well want a shutdown. But they always play it to their advantage. They say, oh, the Republicans did it, and my point is, I don’t want to shut down. I think it would be the Democrats shutting down government if they’re unwilling to accept a Republican majority’s instructions on how to spend money.
MIKE ALLEN: Should we shut down the government over the Planned Parenthood videos?
MARCO RUBIO: Well, I think that’s a false choice. First of all, I don’t know how anyone can continue to justify funding an organization that’s been exposed the way it has. And I believe in the plan that many are furthering – I know Ben Sasse is here, he’s worked very hard on this as [have] Joni Ernst and others – that would take the money that today we put into that organization and give it instead to the community health organizations that are providing the same care without the abortions.
The truth is, I think millions of Americans are increasingly outraged that an organization, that is clearly operating in a way that is offensive to millions and millions of Americans as exposed not just by these videos that have come out, but my understanding is by a number of videos that have yet to come out further exposing what’s happening within Planned Parenthood. I don’t think you need to shut down the government to do that. I think the question you should be asking is of the Democrats: Are you willing to shut down the government in order to defend Planned Parenthood, as opposed to us being asked that?
Rick Perry also deftly turned a question about Planned Parenthood right back at Mark Halperin on Morning Joe on MSNBC two weeks ago.
Thomas Valentine is a researcher for APIA and a junior at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.