Some Republicans try to change positions on abortion as the general election approaches

His evolving rhetoric comes two months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a decision that has since energized Democrats, independents and even some Republican-leaning voters. Following the ruling, Kansas voters overwhelmingly decided to keep abortion protections in their state constitution and a few weeks later, a House candidate in upstate New York won a special election in a competitive district by making of abortion the main issue of his campaign.

Those trends have put Republicans from Michigan to Iowa to Arizona on the defensive, forcing those in competitive races who have taken hard-line stances against abortion rights to soften them or risk incurring the ire of a motivated segment of the electorate.

However, he is far from alone.

Regarding the Supreme Court’s decision, Michigan congressional candidate Tom Barrett allegedly branded himself “100% pro-life, no exceptions,” a position he promoted in the “values” section of his campaign website.
“The protection of individual rights includes the protection of the unborn”, the website readsHe added that he and his wife “have been involved in the pro-life movement our entire lives” and vowed that as an elected leader, he “will always work to protect life from conception.”
The securities section of the website was removed later in the month and after the Kansas results, according to the same File, Archive.
When asked Monday, a spokesperson for the Barrett campaign directed CNN to the website where a “life” section, which calls out Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin, Barrett’s November opponent. The section, which calls Barrett “a consistent pro-life state legislator,” accuses Slotkin of supporting “some of the most extreme abortion policies of any in Congress,” without using the same language about Barrett’s beliefs on abortion. abortion. Slotkin, along with dozens of other Democrats, recently voted in favor of the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022, a law that would codify the protections provided by the Roe v. Wade.
“My opponent recently removed any mention of election from his website, hiding his 100% pro-life stance.” slotkin tweeted in response, Barrett’s website changes. “According to him, it’s not an issue that’s important to voters, saying the update was probably ‘based on the most salient issues right now.'”

“We regularly update the website,” said Barrett’s spokesman.

Republican state Sen. Zach Nunn, seen here at a business roundtable discussion earlier this month, is challenging Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne.
When Zach Nunn was asked during a primary debate in May if “all abortions should be illegal in this country,” the Iowa Republican raised his hand. After Nunn’s Democratic opponent, Rep. Cindy Axne, posted an ad using the video, Nunn posted a opinion piece where he retracted his position, accusing the Democrat of taking it out of context and saying he supports exceptions for “rape, incest and fetal abnormalities, and to save the life of the mother.”

Lydia Hall, a spokeswoman for Nunn’s campaign, responded to questions about the change by focusing on Axne, saying her views on abortion rights are “very out of the ordinary in Iowa” and accusing her of “trying to hide her position to voters. Axne told CNN in a statement that she believes “the only people who should be involved in women’s health care decisions are women, their families and their doctors. Not the government.”

And when Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen was asked about abortion Minnesota Public Radio in March, he said he would “try to ban abortion” as governor. In another interview in May, he said he did not support exceptions for rape or incest unless “the life of the mother is in danger.” Jensen has since backtracked, saying in a recorded video which supports allowing abortions for victims of rape or incest or if the life of the mother is threatened.

Jensen, who is a doctor, said his earlier comments on abortion were “clumsy,” and a campaign spokesperson told CNN that the candidate wanted to clarify his position because people were “repeating what we felt was an inarticulate position.” . .”

Republican Scott Jensen, here in June 2022, is running for governor in Minnesota.

A potential shift in the winds for Democrats

The abortion debate has rocked a midterm cycle that, for months, seemed doomed to Democrats. While anti-abortion organizations continue to urge Republicans to take offensive action on the issue, Democrats have been buoyed by victories in Kansas and New York, using them as proof points that entering a race with abortion at its core can be a recipe for success, even at a time when polls show voters skeptical of the party’s leadership in Washington. A series of national polls that found the June Supreme Court decision widely unpopular have backed Democrats’ confidence in running on the issue.

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So with the November election just months away, Democrats are eager to point to the softening of Republicans, believing, as agent Christina Reynolds put it, that the party is “trying to mislead voters and hide its positions deeply.” unpopular statements on the right to abortion”.

“They know that voters are willing to hold accountable people who take away their rights and they are concerned about their elections,” said Reynolds, a top official with Emily’s List, a Democratic organization that works to elect women who support the right to abortion. “We believe that voters have a clear understanding of who has supported them and who has opposed our reproductive rights.”

The new announcement of a Senate candidate is the latest example of Republicans trying to deflect attacks on abortion
Democrats have rhetorically argued that abortion is a freedom issue, while trying to turn it against Republicans by arguing that they want to take away a right women have had for years. More than 40% of likely voters said their vote for Congress would be in support of abortion rights, compared to just 16% who said it would be in opposition to abortion rights, according to a recent study. CBS News Battleground Tracker Poll.

Democrats have also spent a significant amount of money behind abortion ads. According to AdImpact data, Democratic campaigns and groups have spent an estimated $57 million on ads that mention abortion, a significant portion of the $73 million spent on all political ads that mention the issue.

Anti-abortion rights groups are eager for their candidates to not only stand firm but become offensive on the issue, linking their Democratic opponents to what they see as extreme pro-choice views.

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“Our position hasn’t changed and the way we advise candidates after Kansas remains the same: You have to go on the offensive and define your opponent’s positions instead of letting them define you,” Mallory Carroll said. , spokeswoman for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. “The best defense is a good offense.”

When asked why he thinks some GOP candidates are softening their positions, Carroll blamed other GOP operatives: “There’s always going to be a class of political consultants who aren’t true believers in this issue, advising candidates not to cross your fingers and I hope this topic doesn’t come up. That’s not only morally wrong, it’s politically stupid.”

But candidates in races across the country, even in some of the most competitive races, have changed some of their rhetoric.

Amanda Adkins, the Republican candidate running against Rep. Sharice Davids in Kansas’s competitive 3rd Congressional District, wrote in a opinion piece earlier this month he said he did not “support a federal abortion ban, nor do I support any other federal policy related to contraception or fertility.” But while Adkins was president of the Kansas Republican Party, the organization supported “a Human Life Amendment to the United States Constitution” as well as “legislation to clarify that the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment applies to unborn children.”

The Adkins campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

And Barb Kirkmeyer, the Republican running in Colorado’s competitive 8th Congressional District, responded with a resounding “no” when a voters guide asked about allowing abortions “under extenuating circumstances.”

“As a county commissioner, I voted to ban the Plan B abortion bill and have been a proud and consistent supporter of the Personhood movement, unambiguously advocating for life from conception,” she said.

but in a Piece of the National Newspaper published this month, Kirkmeyer was wrong. “If something comes up at the federal level, I don’t know, I haven’t heard it’s going to be, maybe it is, maybe someone is going to do something, then I’ll look at it and evaluate it at that time,” she said.

Attempts to appeal to a more moderate general election hearing are difficult on an issue like abortion because of how contentious the fight has been and how important it is after the Supreme Court decision.

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“It’s not unusual for candidates to pivot more toward the center of a primary to general election strategy,” said John Thomas, a Republican national strategist. “The minute you win that primary, you have to change the constituency you’re targeting, which is more of those classic swing voters.”

He added: “The challenge is in some of these very hot topics… the other campaign keeps receipts.”