When Dino Rossi was asked about his stance on abortion during his first gubernatorial campaign back in 2004, he blithely quipped that “I’m not running for Supreme Court,” and everybody laughed and gave him a pass.
In 2008, during his second shot at Chris Gregoire, he pretty much offered the same non-denial denial in response to charges he was anti-choice, and once again reporters and editorialists pretty much shrugged.
And in 2010, sensing the Republican primary electorate shifting even further to the far right, Rossi grudgingly acknowledged that he opposes legal abortion except “maybe” in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at stake… but repeatedly emphasized that he’s “not running on that issue” in refusing to discuss it further.
So the question is, with the election only weeks away, and Rossi this time running for the U.S. Senate at a time when the Supreme Court is a mere pubic-hair-on-a-coke-can away from overturning Roe v. Wade, will our local media call Rossi on his obfuscation, and finally explain in detail where he stands on abortion and other women’s health care issues?
We may find out today at 3PM, when Gov. Gregoire and Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards hold a joint press at the Women’s University Club of Seattle to “highlight what’s at stake for women’s health care this election, including where the candidates stand.” If the cameras and reporters show up, and feature their comments on the evening news and in tomorrow’s papers, then we’ll know that the local news media is finally taking women’s issues seriously. But if they don’t, well, it’s another free ride for Dino Rossi on a position I’m sure he holds genuinely, but which separates him from a large majority of Washington voters.
To be clear, this isn’t just another press conference. This is the governor, for chrissakes, taking time out of her day to take questions from reporters. And since she’s not running for anything, likely every again, you just know this press conference is mostly about Rossi.
That’s news. But only if, you know, the press decides to report it.
The record is clear. Rossi opposes abortion, opposes funding to reduce teen pregnancy and opposes access to emergency contraception. He’s voted to oppose requiring insurance prescription plans to include contraception, and twice voted to deny family planning services through Medicaid. In 1992, he even spoke in favor of re-instituting “homes for unwed mothers” as an alternative to abortion. Most reporters know that.
But the fact that the latest SurveyUSA poll shows Rossi still earning 29% support from self-described pro-choice voters, is clear evidence that the public isn’t nearly as well informed.
This is an opportunity for our media to make up for six years of looking the other way. I’ll be interested to see if they take advantage of it.