You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Did The Dems Muzzle Casey?

Over at the Daily Howler, they've got a thorough examination of the old claim (repeated in Michael Gerson's column yesterday) that the Democrats refused to let former Pennsylvania Governor Robert Casey, Sr. speak at the 1992 Democratic convention because of his pro-life views. Is there any truth to this? It's not entirely clear, but probably not. On the one hand, that's what Casey believed had happened; he wrote, "the party denied me ... the right to speak because I am pro-life and planned to say so from the convention podium." On the other hand, the Clinton camp sees things differently, as Mike Crowley reported in TNR in 1996:

According to those who actually doled out the 1992 convention speaking slots, Casey was denied a turn for one simple reason: his refusal to endorse the Clinton-Gore ticket. "It's just not factual!" stammers James Carville, apoplectic over Casey's claims. "You'd have to be idiotic to give a speaking role to a person who hadn't even endorsed you." "Why are you doing this to me?" moans Paul Begala, who, with Carville, managed two Casey campaigns before joining Clinton's team in 1992. " I love Bob Casey, but my understanding was that the dispute was not about his right-to-life views, it was about the Clinton-Gore ticket."

It's hard to believe Casey and the Clinton campaign couldn't work out some sort of arrangement under which Casey would endorse Clinton and in return be given a speaking slot at the convention to air his anti-abortion views, though probably not in prime time--as Mike notes in his article, Casey was retiring and major convention speeches are usually given to candidates up for election in the fall. (And a handful of pro-life Democrats did speak at the convention in 1992, though not about abortion per se.) Pro-lifers are an important segment of the Democratic Party and should be afforded the opportunity to make their case at the convention, so the Casey story would be disturbing if it were true, but absent some further evidence, it doesn't look like it is.

--Josh Patashnik