10/25/2012 10:40 pm ET Updated Dec 25, 2012

Romney's Mormon Bosses?

What are we to make of Mitt Romney seeking permission from Mormon leaders to become pro-choice on abortion years ago when he ran for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts (until he switched back when running for president)? It suggests he'd be consulting them as president on various matters. Romney biographer Ronald B. Scott tells the story:

As president of the Boston stake, Romney owed church leaders a consultation before doing anything that might cause them trouble. In October or November 1993, he went to Salt Lake City to meet with them and explain the abortion position he was going to take. He told them he would say that he opposed abortion personally but that such private beliefs shouldn't be imposed on others. If he didn't frame his position as pro-choice, he'd lose. Many of the church leaders were unhappy with Romney's formulation. But if they wanted him in the Senate, this was the best they were going to get.

Judy Dushku, a Mormon feminist, says she heard a similar account from Romney in 1994 (via Slate):

"I went to his office and I congratulated him on taking a pro-choice position. And his response was, 'Well they told me in Salt Lake City I could take this position, and in fact I probably had to in order to win in a liberal state like Massachusetts.' I said, Mitt, it doesn't make me happy to hear that. What you're suggesting is that you're not genuinely pro-choice. It's a position of convenience. He said, 'Oh no, I actually had an aunt who died of a botched abortion. So I have some positive feelings about choice, but basically I know that I have to take that position.'"