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Kemp Backer Attacks Bush on Abortion

October 12, 1987

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ A congressional backer of Rep. Jack Kemp on Monday accused Vice President George Bush of ″changing his position on abortion with every new election.″

Sen. Gordon Humphrey, R-N.H., said Bush ″cannot be trusted″ to oppose abortion because he’s often changed his stance. Bush aides denied the charge.

″I hope the vice president will clarify what’s going on in his campaign,″ said Humphrey, who supports Kemp for the GOP presidential nomination.

He accused Bush of changing positions on abortion ″three times in 10 years″ and warned ″that doesn’t give us very much cause for confidence that he is going to stay where he is.″

He accused Bush of initially backing a Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, then switching to oppose abortion when he sought re-election with President Reagan in 1984. Humphrey charged that Bush is now saying he would allow abortions in cases of rape or incest and ″when you begin making exceptions, you attack the principle.″

Bush aides rejected the criticism, which came on the day the vice president formally entered the Republican presidential campaign.

Bush campaign communications director Peter Teeley said, ″he’s wrong on that.″

In Houston, where Bush was announcing his candidacy Monday, Teeley said that Bush has ″never stood for″ the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

Questioned by a reporter in Houston as Bush was preparing to announce his candidacy, Teeley said, ″Mr. Humphrey is wrong.″

Humphrey, in a speech to about 50 anti-abortion activists, said he supports Kemp’s Republican presidential effort because the conservative New York congressman ″didn’t back off an inch, or a thousandth of an inch″ on opposing abortion.

Bush said in Iowa last week that he would permit abortion in instances of rape, incest ad when the life of the mother is endangered. Teeley said that’s the same stance he took in 1980 when he ran for president.

Bush did mute his differences with Reagan on the abortion issue when he ran for re-election with Reagan in 1984, however, and said during a presidential campaign debate with Geraldine Ferraro that he had gone through some evolution in his thinking.

Reagan has said he would accept abortion only if the mother’s life was in danger.

The dispute holds the potential for political trouble, because the anti- abortion movement is active in Iowa, a state which holds its precinct caucuses, an early test of GOP presidential strength, on Feb. 8.

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