Gov. Haley Barbour is trying to unring a bell after raising concerns about the wording of Initiative 26, Mississippi's Personhood amendment, earlier this week on several cable news shows. (Watch the video.) Three days after he said he wasn't sure he was going to vote for the controversial initiative, he now says he already cast his vote for it.
The same day Barbour expressed doubts about 26, opponents of the initiative seized upon news of the anti-abortion governor's statements, touching off a flurry of press conferences by groups who support and oppose the proposal. Then on Wednesday, at the Mississippi Economic Council's Hobnob event, Barbour reiterated his concern with the initiative, saying that he found the initiative's language vague and that it should have gone through the Legislature.
"Some very strong pro-life people have raised questions about the ambiguity. I have heard those concerns, and they give me some pause," Barbour told reporters at Hobnob.
On Thursday, after opponents started circulating video of Barbour's initial remarks, the Associated Press reported that Barbour voted in support of the measure by absentee ballot on Thursday because he would be out of town on Election Day.
This afternoon, Barbour's office sent out a press release backing away from his previous expressions of doubt and in response to robocalls suggesting that he opposes Initiative 26. Barbour said in the statement: "As I've previously stated, I voted for the Personhood Amendment. These misleading calls were made without my knowledge, without my permission and against my wishes. I have demanded this deception be stopped, and those responsible have assured me that no more calls will be made."
An anti-26 organization called Mississippians for Healthy Families took responsibility for the calls in a statement of its own, saying the group created a "public education call using the exact words of Gov. Haley Barbour about the 'unintended consequences' caused by this dangerous initiative. Gov. Barbour's concerns, voiced earlier this week on national television, echo those of doctors, nurses, clergy, parents and many pro-life Mississippians who are opposed to Initiative 26."
The plot thickened further today after The Huffington Post reported that Personhood USA is digging into Barbour's campaign-finance records for signs of abortion support. An official of the national group pushing measures similar to Initiative 26 in other states, said they found Barbour's backtracking to be suspicious. "We discovered that he has received campaign contributions from the makers of the abortion pill as recently as 2007," the spokeswoman, Jennifer Mason, told HuffPost, referring to pharma giant Pfizer.
Today, Barbour was on the campaign trail with Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, trying to help him win the governor's seat next Tuesday. "The road to replace Barack Obama begins in Mississippi. Get out and vote for @PhilBryantMS," he tweeted 23 hours ago. Then around lunch today, Barbour urged voters to keep up the Republican juggernaut: "We can make history on Tuesday with back to back GOP Govs. #GOTV #im4phil."
"How dare people deceptively tell other people exactly what I said on national television, using recorded audio of me saying it!! I am a Republican! If what I say doesn't fit the party narrative, I didn't mean it and can not be held accountable for saying it!!"
Save our State! Vote "Not the Republican"