PEORIA, Ill. — Mitt Romney batted away questions about a troublesome issue here tonight, regaining some of the confidence he showed on the stump before Rick Santorum emerged as a strong challenger.
"You know what would make me happy — free birth control," a young woman challenged the Republican during his town hall at Bradley University in this central Illinois town, to a smattering of applause.
"If you're looking for free stuff, if you're looking for free stuff that you don't have to pay for, go vote for the other guy, because that what he's all about," Romney retorted, making an economic case against government handouts. "The idea of borrowing a trillion dollars more than we take in is not just bad economics, it's immoral. I'm not gonna do it, and I'm not gonna make a promise we can't deliver."
"Where do you suggest that the millions of women who receive their health services, such as mammograms and HPV vaccines, go?" she asked.
"Well, they could go wherever they would like to go. This is a free society," Romney said. "But here's what I say — the federal government should not tax these people to pay for Planned Parenthood."
Then Romney turned back to the economy, talking about his standard for funding government programs — whether it is worth it to borrow from China to pay for them.