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The GOP, on its knees on abortion policy, struggles to find a message

Republicans are struggling to formulate their message on abortion, an issue that has repeatedly brought Republican candidates to their knees and is seen as a huge issue next November.

No consistent message has emerged from the GOP presidential field, which has been all over the map with its strategies to convince voters on this issue.

On one side are hardline opponents of abortion, such as former Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Tim Scott (SC), who have argued for a strict ban on abortion in across the country.

Meanwhile, candidates such as former President Trump and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley have called for restraint, warning that Republicans risk losing suburban female voters and others over the issue.

Yet even Haley and Trump have strong stances on abortion. Trump is directly responsible for overturning Roe v. Wade; three of his Supreme Court nominees made up the majority decision. Haley, while governor of South Carolina, also supported legislation that would significantly limit abortion rights. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has not said whether he supports a federal ban on the procedure, but signed a six-week ban on the procedures with exceptions in his state.

“We haven’t talked about the issue, and I’ll tell you why,” Sarah Chamberlain, president and CEO of the Republican Main Street Partnership, said during last year’s midterm discussions.

“I personally sat there with all the men and a pollster and said this is going to be a huge problem,” she continued. “(They said), ‘No, no, women are going to vote with their wallets.’ I said no, it’s not; I said that was absolutely not the case. And they didn’t.

Abortion was widely seen as the key issue that tempered the Republican Party’s victories in the House and prevented the party from retaking the Senate majority in last year’s midterms.

This time around, Senate Republicans are opposing calls for a nationwide ban.

“The (National Republican Senatorial Committee) encourages Republicans to clearly voice their opposition to a national ban on abortion and to support reasonable limits on late-term abortions when babies can feel pain, with exceptions for rape, l “incest and the life of the mother,” said a source familiar with the strategy employed by the NRSC. “They encourage candidates to contrast this position with Democrats’ support for unlimited taxpayer-funded abortion.”

Chamberlain agrees that candidates should treat abortion as a state issue. “If you’re a Republican, you support giving more power to the states,” she said.

“Let’s put it there and then let the states deal with it and try to get it out of the federal arena,” she said.

Chamberlain also cited a poll commissioned by the Republican Main Street Partnership that found 60 percent of Republicans said they thought the issue should be left to individual states, while 32 percent said there should be have a federal law on abortion restrictions; 8 percent said they were unsure.

“I don’t know if we’re going to make it. Otherwise, I think we will probably have to pass a European-style abortion law,” she said, referring to the number of European countries banning elective abortion procedures after 17 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the woman. mother.

Whether a state holds a vote on the legality of abortion could also impact certain races. In at least ten states, including Florida, Ohio, South Dakota and Missouri, abortion rights advocates are considering ballot measures to codify the right to the procedure. Meanwhile, in other states, including New York, Nevada, Maryland and Colorado, there may be opportunities to incorporate existing abortion protections into the procedure.

Ohio’s runoff election is scheduled for next November, which could mean abortion access may not play a role in the state Senate race next year. The Maryland and New York measurements won’t take place until November 2024.

However, the issue could play an important role in the vote in a swing state like Arizona, or even in a red state like Florida.

“This will be at the forefront of voters’ minds. It will likely increase Democratic turnout there, so it’s an issue that Republicans will have to be very comfortable talking about,” a Republican strategist told The Hill.

Democrats say they are hopeful after abortion rights supporters won victories in Kansas, Kentucky, Montana and Michigan, where voters voted in favor of state rights to the procedure. Democrats also attribute recent special election victories in Virginia, Wisconsin and New Hampshire to abortion rights messages.

“What this shows you is that even though we’re beyond 2022, a lot of these candidates are still talking about it,” said Abhi Rahman, a Democratic strategist and communications director at the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) echoed that sentiment in a statement to The Hill, telegraphing that it plans to keep the issue front and center next year.

“In their recordings and on video, Republican Senate candidates have already taken dangerous positions that would make abortion illegal and deprive women of the right to make their own health care decisions,” said Nora Keefe, Door -spokesperson of the DSCC. “We will make sure voters see and hear what Republicans said in their own words, and in 2024, voters will hold them accountable by rejecting them and their toxic agenda.”

Republicans agree that they must call Democrats’ positions on abortion dangerous, specifically highlighting their positions on late-term abortions.

“The truth is they tell you there should be no restrictions on abortion,” a second Republican Party strategist said. “It’s kind of like the goalpost, at least for Democrats, has literally been shifted to the point where – and I don’t mean to be rude when I say this – it’s just not a baby until it’s Don’t leave the hospital.”

A Gallup poll released in June found that 69 percent of Americans said they think abortion should generally be legal in the first three months of pregnancy, 37 percent said it should be legal in during the second three months of pregnancy and 22 percent said it should be. legal during the last three months of pregnancy. Even though the Gallup poll shows the results match the highest trends seen in its polling since 1996, support for legalizing the procedure in the later stages of pregnancy continues to decline.

“(In many) voters’ minds, they simply see Republicans as being no-abortion, no-exception, but when you dig into the details of what they actually believe, their position, even among voters who call themselves pro-choice, their position is not that far from the mainstream party platform,” the top Republican strategist said.

Predictably, Democrats are skeptical.

“This is the largest loss of rights for a large group of people in the last 50 years,” Rahman said. “So no matter what they do, it’s really not going to help them, because all they’re doing is putting lipstick on a pig.”


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