Rachel Maddow
Rachel Maddow
One of cable network MSNBC’s main national political programs, “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Thursday night prominently featured a Carroll Daily Times Herald story on Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty’s views on abortion.

On Memorial Day in Boone, The Daily Times Herald asked Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor who says he is strongly pro-life, what the penalty should be for a woman who has an abortion or a doctor who performs one — should Pawlenty’s position prevail and abortion become a prohibited procedure.

“I don’t think we want to make it a criminal sanction, but I think there should be some kind of penalty or consequence, but we don’t have a specific proposal as to what that would be,” Pawlenty told the Daily Times Herald.

Pawlenty declined to answer a follow-up question about how much, if any, time he has devoted to considering the penalty element of the abortion debate.

Eric Woolson, the veteran Iowa GOP operative who is Pawlenty’s senior adviser and communications consultant, called the Daily Times Herald after the interview to elaborate on Pawlenty’s comments Monday. “As you know, this was the last question in the press scrum and discussion got chopped off.” Woolson said. “To be clear, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the issue of abortion returns to the states for them to decide the issue and penalties, if any. As to the governor’s views on these matters, he believes that if abortion becomes illegal, abortion providers should be subject to a penalty possibly including a criminal penalty. However, he does not believe women should be penalized.”

Maddow devoted a full segment to the matter Thursday, playing the audio from carrollspaper.com and running a transcript of The Daily Times Herald’s exchange with Pawlenty in Boone. Maddow said the episode with Pawlenty in Boone shows that abortion remains a pivotal issue among Iowa conservatives and will play a major role in shaping the Republican presidential race here, where candidates must pass muster with anti-abortion advocates.

“This is what it takes to run for president as a Republican this year which probably means that mainstream reporters should all start asking all of the Republican candidates now what kind of prison sentences they want for abortion,” Maddow said on her program.

The full video of the MSNBC segment can be viewed at The Daily Times Herald’s website, carrollspaper.com.