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June 22, 2012

Vermont Dems Attack Brock for Supporting an Anti-Abortion Law He, In Fact, Does Not Support

Vermont's Democratic and Republican parties spent the week in a press-release pissing match over whether Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock should be held responsible for the views of a pair of prominent GOP governors who are campaigning for him.

By enlisting the help of Maine Gov. Paul LePage and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, the Dems argue, Brock "confirms his allegiance to a radically conservative Republican agenda." Vermont Republican Party chairman Jack Lindley responded by referring to his counterparts as "the name callers who dwell in the bowels at the Vermont Democratic Party."

Whoa! Chill out, homies!

In today's episode, the Democrats are insinuating that Brock, who supports abortion rights, actually secretly backs a controversial Virginia law requiring women to receive an ultrasound before getting an abortion.

"The vast majority of Vermonters support a woman's right to choose, and it is unsettling that Randy Brock is siding on this issue with ultra-conservative GOP Governor McDonnell — his host at a Washington DC fundraiser next week," Dem party chairman Jake Perkinson says in a press release.

Perkinson's evidence? An Associated Press story that says Brock campaign adviser and fundraiser Darcie Johnston praised the Virginia law. Here's the relevant paragraph from AP reporter Dave Gram's story:

Brock campaign aide Darcie Johnston in an email lavished praise on McDonnell for improvements in Virginia’s economy, and called the ultrasound bill a "common-sense pro-life bill that puts Virginia in line with a number of other states."

But according to the Brock campaign, the AP story resulted from a miscommunication between Johnston and Gram. The campaign says it offered Gram background information about the Virginia governor to counter Democratic claims about his record. After reaching out to McDonnell's office to clarify his position on the ultrasound issue, Johnston copied and pasted talking points supplied by the Virginia governor's staff and emailed them to Gram. She says she did not mean to imply that the words were her own.

Emails provided by the Brock campaign confirm that the "common-sense pro-life" language comes directly from a McDonnell aide. Johnston's email to Gram, however, does not explain that the information came from a third party.

Gram did not immediately return a call to the AP's Montpelier bureau seeking comment.

As for Brock, he says he does not support the Virginia ultrasound law and strongly backs a woman's right to choose: "I am and always have been pro-choice. I don't believe the government should be interfering in women's medical decisions. Period."

He called the Democrats' release "a classic smear tactic to divert people away from the real issues" and called on his opponent, Gov. Peter Shumlin, to "tell the Democrats to stop the negative campaigning."

And how does Johnston really feel about the law?

"I support the same position as my boss," she says.

So she's pro-choice, too?

"I support the same position as my boss," she repeats.

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