CNN correspondent Gary Tuchman’s report detailing the abortion stances of the four major presidential and vice-presidential candidates on Wednesday’s Anderson Cooper 360 program gave a fairly neutral portrayal of how "Biden and Obama both favor abortion rights" and how "Palin and McCain are both anti-abortion," despite Tuchman describing how Palin is "considered fervently anti-abortion." However, host Anderson Cooper, in his introduction to Tuchman’s report, gave no reaction or labeling as he mentioned South Carolina Democratic Chairwoman Carol Fowler’s slam against Palin, that John McCain picked her because she "hadn’t had an abortion," other than stating, "Just the mention of that word [abortion] stirs up intense emotions for a lot of voters."
Tuchman included three clips from a 2006 Alaska gubernatorial candidates’ debate, in which Palin answered questions about the abortion issue. After describing Palin as "fervently anti-abortion," he immediately contrasted her position with that of her opponent, Delaware Senator Joe Biden, and played two clips of his Sunday appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press. The CNN correspondent then stated, "So Biden may agree with Palin that life begins at conception, but their paths diverge from there. Biden and Obama both favor abortion rights. Palin and McCain are both anti-abortion."
Later in the segment, Tuchman highlighted the differences on the abortion issue within the Republican ticket itself, since McCain favors allowing abortion in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is threatened; while Palin’s only exception is for the life of the mother. As an example of this, the correspondent included a clip from a heated exchange between McCain and then-Governor George W. Bush from a Republican presidential candidates’ debate in 2000 on these exceptions.
Cooper’s non-reaction to Fowler (who later issued a statement saying, "I apologize to anyone who finds my comment offensive") is noteworthy, since one of the possible implications from it is that other prominent Republican women could have had abortions. Also, it should be pointed out that Tuchman described how Palin is "fervently anti-abortion," but made no mention of the controversy over Obama’s votes against Born-Alive Infants Protection Act during his time in the Illinois State Senate.
The full transcript of Tuchman’s report, including Cooper’s introduction, which began 37 minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour of Wednesday’s Anderson Cooper 360 program:
ANDERSON COOPER: The political Web site Politico.com says South Carolina's Democratic chairwoman -- Carol Fowler is her name -- accused John McCain of picking Sarah Palin because she, quote, 'hasn't had an abortion.'Just the mention of that word stirs up intense emotions for a lot of voters. Abortion's, without a doubt, a wedge issue in this presidential race. But exactly where do the candidates stand on the subject? Let's get the facts from tonight's 'Nation Divided' segment. Here's Gary Tuchman.
GARY TUCHMAN (voice-over): In the days before Sarah Palin became John McCain's running mate, she did indeed take questions from reporters. And during one of those times in a gubernatorial debate in 2006, she was asked this.
CHRISTOPHER CLARK, KTOO-TV REPORTER (from 2006 Alaska gubernatorial Candidates' debate): If the woman had been raped and didn't want the child, would you allow her to have the abortion?
GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN: You know, with my respect for the sanctity of life, and my belief in the potential of life, I know that this aspect of the abortion issue is very sensitive, and you know, it's a very private matter also. But personally, I would choose life.
TUCHMAN: The reporter followed up by asking a hypothetical question that's no longer so hypothetical.
CLARK: If your daughter were pregnant or your son was involved in a pregnancy, what would your reaction be -- I mean, if it was before marriage, or anything like that. What would be your reaction and advice to him or her?
PALIN: Again, I would choose life.
TUCHMAN: Sarah Palin is considered fervently anti-abortion, which makes the words of her vice-presidential opponent especially notable.
SENATOR JOE BIDEN (from NBC's Meet the Press): I'm prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception.
TUCHMAN: On NBC's Meet the Press this past Sunday, Joe Biden declared that, as a Roman Catholic, he accepts the teachings of the Church.
BIDEN: But that is my judgment. For me to impose that judgment on everyone else, who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am, seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society.
TUCHMAN: So Biden may agree with Palin that life begins at conception, but their paths diverge from there. Biden and Obama both favor abortion rights. Palin and McCain are both anti-abortion. Outside Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral, some of the Roman Catholics leaving Mass see it Joe Biden's way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am pro-choice as well, but I believe that life begins at conception.
TUCHMAN: Others most certainly do not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Life is precious, and it should not be destroyed.
CLARK: If your daughter had been raped, would that be something you would feel?
PALIN: Again, I would choose life.
TUCHMAN: Palin does support abortion to save the life of a mother. John McCain believes the same, but has also favored exceptions for rape or incest victims. As a matter of fact, during a 2000 Republican presidential debate, he challenged George W. Bush about why the GOP platform advocated no exceptions.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (from 2000 Republican presidential candidates' debate): Your position is that you believe there's an exemption for rape, incest and life of the mother, but you want the platform that you're supposed to be leading to have no exceptions?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH (then Governor of Texas): Yeah --
MCCAIN: Help me out here.
BUSH: I will -- I will.
MCCAIN: Thank you.
BUSH: The platform talks about -- it doesn't talk about what specifically should be in the constitutional amendment. Does it? No.
MCCAIN: It doesn't have the exemption, and you know that very well.
BUSH: Let me finish, John. John, let me finish.
TUCHMAN: Although McCain still feels the same way, the 2008 Republican platform does not mention exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. Gary Tuchman, CNN, Chicago.