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Obama team: Romney 'trying to cover up' views on abortion

 

Updated 12:45 p.m. - The Obama campaign is looking to inject Mitt Romney's pledge Tuesday to pursue no legislation related to abortion as president into the center of the campaign.

Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter accused Romney of trying to "cynically and dishonestly hid[e] his real positions" after he told the editorial board of the Des Moines Register that there is "no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda."

Evan Vucci / AP

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

"On this issue and so many others, women simply just can't trust Mitt Romney," Cutter told reporters. "We're not saying that he's changed his mind on these issues, we're saying he's trying to cover up his beliefs."

As both presidential candidates stump in Ohio, Mitt Romney made an apparent shift on abortion, which was pounced upon by President Obama's campaign. Meanwhile, the tug of war over Big Bird has ruffled feathers with the nonprofit behind Sesame Street. NBC's Peter Alexander reports.

The Obama team's tack is tied into their approach toward Romney since last week's debate versus President Barack Obama, painting the Republican presidential nominee as deceptive in his views so as to put a centrist veneer on his past conservative positions.

"As Barack Obama said in 2008, 'if you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from,'" said Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg in response. "Americans are tired of the same old politics as usual, and they won't be fooled by a flailing campaign's manufactured outrage. Mitt Romney will deliver real change and turn our country around."

Whether this criticism can take hold in the waning days of the 2012 campaign is another matter.

Romney has sometimes encountered difficulties in navigating his promises in the Republican primary and his pivot toward the center in the general election. Among his promises was a pledge to pursue the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," which would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks with exceptions for birth defects and the health of the mother.

"Mitt Romney is proudly pro-life, and he will be a pro-life president," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told NBC News in response to the candidate's comments to the Iowa newspaper. Saul also told National Review Online:  “Governor Romney would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life.”

Conservatives have otherwise been muted in criticizing Romney, seemingly allowing the candidate some leeway in campaigning against Obama.

But the president -- who's expected to assume a more aggressive posture versus Romney in the next debate -- may well try to litigate his GOP opponent's apparent shift in their next showdown on Oct. 16. The Obama campaign has used Republican rhetoric on abortion rights and contraception to build an advantage over Romney among women voters in many swing states.

"We will wait to see what happens that night," said Cutter.