The issue Burgum was being questioned about was abortion. Clearly, not an issue Burgum likes to talk about (neither of his opponents are particularly comfortable with it either), but he acknowledges it’s one Republican voters want to hear about. He described it as “the most passionate issue in North Dakota” at one point.
But if you want to know what Burgum’s position is on the issue, he’s not just going to tell you. You’re going to have to work for it, and the answers you get aren’t going to be terribly clear.
I combined video and audio I was sent to provide you with a complete picture of the entire exchange. You can watch/listen above.
“What’s your feeling on the life issue,” Burgum is asked.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”I’m not pro-terminating life, but I also believe women have a voice in this debate as well.”[/mks_pullquote]
“North Dakotans have spoken, the Supreme Court has spoken, it’s just not an issue for this campaign,” he responded. He went on to eschew being labeled as pro-life or pro-choice.
“People have been trying to put a label on me for sixteen days and I’ve said ‘neither’,” he told the questioner. “Someone who is pro life isn’t going to accept that. Someone who is pro-choice isn’t going to accept that. I feel this is an issue where people who have gone to the edge and have picked a label for the two choices, like there only two solution sets…then we’re not making any progress on the problem.”
The questioner, a little frustrated, then asked Burgum for his “own opinion” on whether “it’s right or wrong or whatever.”
“Doug, I’m just wanting your opinion not everybody else’s. You’re running for governor and that’s a question I need to know. I just want to know what your feeling is,” the questioner continued.
At this point Burgum started to go all over the map on the issue.
“I would oppose late term abortions,” he said.
“I believe they should be legal in the cases of rape or incest,” he said.
Then he suggested – as he did with me during our interview – that he didn’t like being questioned on the issue by men. “Again this is guys talking to guys,” he said. “No male has ever died from a problem pregnancy.”
After that, Burgum contradicted himself. “I want to talk to women across the state,” he added, but then said “I want to talk to men.”
And see if you can make sense of this statement: “I’m not pro-terminating life, but I also believe women have a voice in this debate as well.”
He did make this statement at the conclusion of his response to the questioner, which is kind of clear I guess?
“I’m not running on this issue, and if the Legislature passes a bill I think is unconstitutional I’ll probably veto it.”
If only we had a good idea of what Burgum feels would be unconstitutional. It’s worth remembering, as SAB contributor James Kerian pointed out recently, that three out of the four controversial pro-life bills passed by the 2013 Legislature remain law today.