New RNC Chair Already Under Fire

Some Republican Party backers of abortion rights are upset with their party’s new chairman, Ken Mehlman, for planning to host a salute next week to those who favor banning abortion.

“This crosses the line,” Ann Stone, national chair of Republicans for Choice, a political action group with about 100,000 members nationwide, said on Friday.

Mehlman has scheduled an event on Monday to honor those who participate in the march that day against the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

A Republican spokesman said that the party has hosted similar events in the past and “is a big tent” that represents various points of view.

Said Stone: “This is the first we ever knew about it (such an event). We would have complained sooner.”

“The Republican Party chairman is to represent all Republicans, not just those who oppose abortion,” Stone said, adding that polls show most Republicans support a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. President Bush opposes abortion.

Mehlman, Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign manager, was elected chairman on Wednesday of the Republican National Committee.

The RNC elected as co-chair Jo Ann Davidson, a former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, who has served since 1990 on the advisory board of Republicans for Choice.

While some conservatives grumbled about her selection as RNC co-chair, Davidson assured committee members that when it comes to policy she defers to Bush.

The RNC, in an e-mail to key party activists this week, wrote: “Please join Ken Mehlman … as we honor those who march for the Right to Life. We’ll also be joined by several members of Congress who have been instrumental in our party’s fight to protect the sanctity of life.”