It’s great to see that the Montana newspapers are starting to give Senator Zinke the scrutiny his campaign deserves. Today, Charles Johnson reported in the Lee Newspapers what I have been reporting for months, that Senator Zinke is hardly a pro-life opponent of abortion, a position that will generate a great deal of difficult for him among Republican primary voters. That difficulty is no doubt the reason that Zinke is backpedalling so furiously now, going so far as to call three women from Concerned Women for America liars at the same time he’s distorting his own record.[pullquote] In the end, we have two possibilities: that everyone else is misinterpreting Zinke’s record, distorting his views, and misunderstanding his votes. The other option seems just a bit more plausible: that an opportunistic Ryan Zinke, who has demonstrated an almost unprecedented willingness in Montana politics to dissemble, distort, and defame, might just be lying about his record…[/pullquote]
Today, Zinke claims to be “100% pro-life” despite a record on abortion rights that is anything but. The best measure of Zinke’s position on abortion still comes from the 2009 session of the Legislature, when he was not only given a relatively high rating by NARAL/Pro-Choice Montana, but a rating that contrasted mightily with the rest of his party. As I noted back in November:
In 2009, Senator Zinke scored a 65% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice Montana while the rest of his party was closer to 3%.
As Johnson notes today, Zinke voted against a pro-life measure that “stated that the projection of the unborn human life is a compelling state interest, thus banning abortion and “to amend the constitution to redefine that life begins at fertilization.”
If, for some reason, Zinke supporters choose to ignore his votes in the Montana Legislature, they have his own words to contend with. Even in 2011, when he received a 0% rating from NARAL/Pro-Choice Montana, he told reporter Cody Bloomsburg that he does not support government restrictions on abortion:
Sen. Ryan Zinke, R-Whitefish, doesn’t see the measures succeeding, even if they do make the ballot. He said he believes most Montanans favor abortion rights. And while he said he and his family live their lives conservatively, he is wary of giving government the power to decide if a woman can get an abortion. He said he’d rather see that decision made by a woman in consultation with her family and her church.
The most interesting part of the Johnson piece exposes Zinke’s willingness to attack others who expose his record. Johnson interviewed three women from Concerned Women of America, who were “stunned” to learn that Zinke supports abortion rights up to 20 weeks from conception:
“When given the opportunity to elaborate on his statement, he offered no other stipulation that would prevent him from supporting abortions up to 20 weeks,” said Kari Zeier, state director of Concerned Women for America.
Zinke, in a typical moment of class, called the the women from Concerned Women from America liars:
“I did not say I supported (abortion up to) 20 weeks,” Zinke said. “She lied.”
In the end, we have two possibilities: that everyone else is misinterpreting Senator Zinke’s record, distorting his views, and misunderstanding his votes, including political experts from both sides of the abortion debate in NARAL and CWA. The other option seems just a bit more plausible: that an opportunistic Ryan Zinke, who has demonstrated an almost unprecedented willingness in Montana politics to dissemble, distort, and defame, might just be lying about his record on abortion rights to win a primary in a pro-life Republican Party.