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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Now we explore what's shaping up to be an awkward political marriage: on one side, Mitt Romney; on the other, the many social conservatives who have spent this primary season voting for anyone but Mitt Romney.

SIEGEL: In a moment, we'll hear about his standing with evangelical voters, but first, some good news for the candidate. Romney got a big endorsement today from the nation's oldest and largest anti-abortion group.

NPR's Julie Rovner has that story.

JULIE ROVNER, BYLINE: National Right to Life Committee president Carol Tobias wasted no time getting to the point of today's president conference.

CAROL TOBIAS: National Right to Life is proud and honored to endorse Governor Mitt Romney for president of the United States.

ROVNER: But that was nearly the last time Romney's name was mentioned for much of the event. Most of the rest was devoted to why the organization is so devoted to making sure President Obama doesn't win a second term. For starters, says Tobias, there's his overall position on abortion.

TOBIAS: On his second day in office, January 22nd, 2009, President Obama issued a statement reaffirming his commitment to defend Roe v. Wade, which gave us abortion on demand.

ROVNER: And it's just not abortion. Raimundo Rojas, the group's director of Hispanic Outreach, emphasized the group's longstanding position that the 2010 health law could lead to the rationing of health care. He aimed his comments squarely at Hispanic immigrants, a key voting bloc.

RAIMUNDO ROJAS: What they don't understand is why is it in this country their daughter is being denied treatment by a junta of bureaucrats. And that's the looming tragic reality of the affordable health care act

ROVNER: But a lingering question is why did such an influential group wait so long to make its endorsement? In 2008, National Right to Life got in early - too early, perhaps. It endorsed former Senator Fred Thompson, whose campaign fizzled fast. Tobias said 2008 was different.

TOBIAS: In 2008, there was a pro-abortion candidate in the Republican primary.

ROVNER: That would have been former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

TOBIAS: And we wanted to make sure that he did not get the nomination. So we wanted to select a pro-life candidate to support.

ROVNER: This year, she said, all the candidates were sufficiently anti-abortion to satisfy the group. That includes Romney, who had a very different position when he was running for office in Massachusetts. Here he is in a debate with the late Senator Ted Kennedy in 1994.

MITT ROMNEY: I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I have since the time that mom took that position when she ran in 1970, as a U.S. Senate candidate. I believe that since Roe v Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it.

ROVNER: But that doesn't bother Tobias.

TOBIAS: We love people who have changed their position; Mitt Romney admits that he has done that and we are happy to be working with him. We have absolutely no question; no doubt about his pro-life convictions and we will be happy to support him as a pro-life president.

ROVNER: And National Right to Life isn't alone. Romney also got the nod today from another prominent anti-abortion group, the Susan B. Anthony List.

Julie Rovner, NPR News, Washington.

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