The Corner

The Quiet Believer

Pro-lifers worried about John McCain’s commitment to their cause should read Sarah Blustain’s article in The New Republic and cheer up. She doesn’t get everything right–for example, she treats Charles Fried, bafflingly, as a hard-core pro-lifer–but she tells some interesting stories.

My first stop in Phoenix was the office of Grant Woods, who served as McCain’s chief of staff during his first term in the House, helped with his campaigns throughout the 1980s, and is now a member of his Arizona Leadership Team. “I am very familiar with his position [on abortion],” reflected Woods, a cowboy-style lawyer, slow-talking and casual, who said that he embraces the true conservative position–that a woman should make her own decision rather than having the government make it for her. “It was one on which I disagreed with him from the beginning.” Like many voters today, Woods said he “wondered about the depth of [McCain’s] commitment to that position initially because I had the impression that it wasn’t something that he’d given a lot of thought to. ” But, over the years, he continued, “I was completely convinced that this was a very sincere position that he had thought through and arrived at.” Woods recalled a number of conversations with McCain, including one “up in the mountains late at night,” in which the lawyer suggested that reasonable minds could differ. “When we really explored it, it really came down [for] him to a sanctity-of-life question. … He did get very emotional one time we talked about it. He truly believed.”

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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