David Brock’s Media Matters wants you to know Robert Casey was never a second-class citizen in the Democratic party because of his anti-abortion position. They write (talking about a NYTimes Mag piece on Rick Santorum last weekend):
Sokolove also wrongly stated that “the late Gov. Robert Casey Sr. … was barred from speaking at the 1992 Democratic National Convention because of his antiabortion views.” Though the media have repeated this falsehood numerous times (see here, here, here, here, here, and here), the truth is that convention organizers denied Casey a speech in 1992 because he refused to endorse the Clinton-Gore ticket, not because of his views on abortion. Further, several speakers who opposed abortion rights did address the convention in 1992, and abortion rights opponents have spoken at every Democratic convention since then.
Bill McGurn provided some of the color of the time here:
I didn’t know Governor Casey personally. But back in 1992, fate put me within a few feet of him inside Madison Square Garden during the Democratic National Convention. That was when Clinton officials refused a place at the podium for the Democratic governor of America’s fifth-largest state while also providing speaking slots for six pro-choice Republican women. To make sure the point was delivered, one of these was a pro-choice woman who had campaigned for Casey’s Republican opponent.
On Election Day 2004, the silencing of Bob Casey thundered through America’s polling booths. In vain, Casey in 1992 had warned his fellow Democrats about allowing the Party to be become “little more than an auxiliary of NARAL.” In his autobiography he put it this way:
[“]Many people discount the power of the so-called “cultural issues”—and especially of the abortion issue. I see it just the other way around. These issues are central to the national resurgence of the Republicans, central to the national implosion of the Democrats, central to the question of whether there will be a third party. The national Democrats may, and probably will, get a temporary bump in the polls—even, perhaps, one more national election victory—from their reactive strategy as the defenders of the elderly and poor who rely on Medicare and Medicaid. But the Democrats’ national decline—or better, their national disintegration—will continue relentlessly and inexorably until they come to grips with these values issues, primarily abortion.[“]
More McGurn on Casey here, btw.