Asked to clarify the Planned Parenthood reference hours after the report aired, top Romney campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said Romney did not mean to suggest his administration would eliminate the women's health care provider altogether. Indeed, in remarks before and after the Missouri interview, Romney indicated he would focus on eliminating the organization's federal funding, as Republicans in Washington and in state legislatures across the country have fought to do in recent months.
"It would not be getting rid of the organization," Fehrnstrom said. "They have other sources of funding besides government appropriations, but in order to achieve balance, we have to make some tough decisions about spending."
Romney has personally avoided the issue since Fehrnstrom's comments Monday night, but his campaign released a statement suggesting it was morally irresponsible "to borrow money from China to fund our nation's leading abortion provider."
"The real question should be why President Obama thinks that is the right course for our nation," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said.
Democrats, meanwhile, have intensified their push to exploit Romney's remark. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi described it as an "an assault on the judgment of women." Democratic congresswomen and party officials from across the nation issued similar statements and hosted conference calls with reporters, and the Democratic National Committee released a new video seizing on the comment.