This we learned from an article in LifeSiteNews.com last week.
The story states that Nelson, "arrived unexpectedly at a private meeting of pro-life leaders Wednesday (1/20/10) to explain his reasoning and insist that he was still devoted to their cause."
Leavenworth Street dug a little deeper and found out that this was an annual gathering of about seventy-five Pro-Life leaders before the March for Life.
[** Update 1/26/10 ** Kristen Day of Democrats for Life of America informs us that Nelson was invited to the meeting, and that LifeSiteNews got it wrong. We are waiting for answers to some follow up questions to her.]
Well, not only did he attend, he also gave prepared remarks and had a Q&A.
It goes on...
The atmosphere of the room grew tense, however, as it became clear that Nelson had not come to apologize for casting the 60th "yes" vote that dashed the hopes of pro-life leaders counting on the senator to stop the abortion-expanding bill in its tracks.
Instead Nelson rebuffed the idea that he caved on his pro-life position, and said that the “compromise” language that he had offered just before the final senate vote - which segregated the taxpayer subsidy monies funding abortion-providing insurance plans - allowed Nelson to "hold true to my pro-life principles" in voting for the measure.
In a question-and-answer session following his remarks, Nelson expressed frustration when one pro-life leader suggested that Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak, unlike Nelson, stood his ground for adequate pro-life language.
"Excuse me, I don't want to give the impression that I didn't stand my ground," said Nelson. "We might have a difference of opinion about the language that was written, but there are some others who do believe that that was written in a way that it did bar the use of federal funds. It may not have been the language people preferred, I understand.
"But I'm not going to stand here and hear that I didn't stand my ground, because I believe I did."
What's interesting in all of this is the pre-bill posturing and the final language.
In the weeks that led up to the December cloture vote, Nelson stated over and over that he couldn't support a bill that didn't have language like the Stupak amendment in the House version.
Now the legislative director for National Right to Life says that he knew abortion language was not Nelson's number one priority in the bill. He wanted some abortion language, but apparently Johnson knew that Nelson could be swayed by other issues.
National Right to Life (and Nebraska Right to Life) has a series of problems with the language in the Senate version (read more here), but as Nelson will continue to argue, they are problems with what could happen under the bill. In other words, the bill has gaping holes through which abortion supporters could jump to achieve their goals.
But while the bill doesn't have the restrictive Stupak language, it doesn't (seem) to have outright open abortion language. For this, Nelson sees it as Pro-Life, and thus feels that he "stood his ground".
For history buffs, see "Chamberlain, Neville" waving a piece of paper in the air.
So the kicker in all of this, is that Nelson will continue to plead his case that he is "Pro-Life" no matter where he goes. We were frankly shocked that he didn't get pizza-parlored out of the Right to Life meet, but maybe they were just in shock when he showed.
We aren't sure if voters (if there are voters, in the end) will buy what Nelson is selling -- particularly if this version of the Health Care Re-form bill isn't passed.
But it will be interesting if it comes to the point where Nelson is on TV saying "I'm Pro-Life." and there are competing ads saying, "Like hell he is!"
How long 'til he goes on the air with that?
And while on the subject of Nelson getting booed, here was one out of...Reno?
This was the Safari Club International meeting in the Biggest Little City in the World, for big game hunters -- one of which Nelson is.
Nebraska’s Sen. Ben Nelson, scheduled to receive honors for his pro-hunter work, was a no-show at SCI, and when his name was mentioned, the crowd booed.
Wonder if they were serving pizza...
And piling on the Benator, this from TIME Magazine (online):
The deal now known as the "Cornhusker Kickback" may have been one of the biggest blunders in modern political history. Normally, you'd be surprised if people in Massachusetts even know who the Senator from Nebraska is. But the number of people I talked to who brought up Ben Nelson's name, unprompted, was striking. I'm also told, by some who were doing phonebanking, that they got an earful about it over and over.