White House sees opportunity in GOP abortion 'fumble'

White House sees opportunity in GOP abortion ‘fumble’

Tension between Republicans over how to get a message across on abortion presents the White House and Democrats with an opportunity to pounce on the GOP on an issue they see as a midterm advantage in November .

President Biden has sought to seize the moment, showing that Democrats are the party of common sense when it comes to reproductive health policy.

Since Sen. Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) proposed legislation that would impose a nationwide ban on abortions performed after 15 weeks, GOP disputes over whether that power rests with the states or the federal government have been put to the fore. plan.

It could help Biden attract more voters — and Democrats who once complained the White House wasn’t doing enough say he’s finally having a moment.

“For once, I think they’re actually doing it,” said Democratic strategist Christy Setzer, pointing to swing-state Democrats pouring massive amounts of money into paid media, including contrasting ads. .

“On [Capitol] Hill, they don’t bite the hook on laws like Lindsey Graham’s 15-week ban. They call it a national ban, which it is, rather than focusing on the details of the policy,” she said.

Graham this week created new headaches for Republicans when he appeared to do an about-face by saying abortion is not a state rights issue and acknowledged that his bill banning abortions after 15 weeks pregnant went against typical Republican thinking.

“If Republicans wanted to choose a policy that would divide significant parts of their constituency, this is it. Yet they went ahead and did it,” said former Rep. Chris Carney (D-Pa.), a Biden ally.

“It was a huge fumble for Republicans,” said one strategist. “And I’m glad we were able to capitalize on their mistakes.”

GOP strategist Doug Heye said Republicans shouldn’t make abortion an even bigger topic in this midterm cycle and should instead focus on issues like inflation, crime and the border to attract voters.

“The problem was not going away. It’s just another example to give it more prominence and it gets Republicans to focus on an issue that most of them don’t want and allows Democrats to not focus on the issues they don’t want to focus,” he said. .

Democrats were ahead of Republicans by 22 points in a recent poll that asked voters which party was better at handling abortion issues.

This advantage is huge for Democrats, but they consistently trail Republicans on issues like the economy and immigration policy.

“For once, Democrats seem to understand that the public is not only with us on this issue, they are even more allergic to abortion bans than they were before Dobbs,” Setzer said. “Women who have had a miscarriage, who use IVF, who understand they can get raped, who even just want access to Plan B, now understand that they are all targeted by GOP abortion bans. .”

White House officials held a meeting this week on reproductive rights and focused on efforts by state legislatures to protect reproductive health care, while Republicans in some states worked to pass measures extreme anti-abortion.

Jennifer Klein, director of the White House Gender Policy Council, and Julie Chavez Rodriguez, senior adviser, brought together state representatives from California, Colorado, Maryland, New Mexico and elsewhere that have passed bills to protect and expand access to the process.

Democrats, from progressives to moderates, appeared on the same page with their messages on abortion even before Republicans were in the position they recently found themselves, thanks in part to Graham’s bill, that the Republican of South Carolina admits not having the votes to pass.

Democrats have redoubled their efforts to make abortion a major issue as they approach the midterms. The party spent about $124 million on ads focused on abortion, more than double what the party spent on other issues.

“It’s probably fair to say that Democrats gained a lot of midterm ground thanks to the Dobbs decision. And when it comes to messaging on the issue, the White House and Congress have been pretty united … in this case, they haven’t behaved like Democrats,” said Carney, senior policy adviser at Nossaman LLP.

When Roe v. Wade was formally overturned by the Supreme Court in June, Democrats saw it as another major issue that the White House was too slow to address, especially since a draft opinion on the decision had was disclosed a month earlier.

But just after Graham’s bill was formally introduced in the Senate, the White House released a statement calling it “extremely off-track”, showing that it had worked to keep pace with the timeline of Graham’s proposal. .

Some Democrats, however, see the administration still has a long way to go before it catches up this year, especially on messaging and multi-crisis response.

“It was embarrassing,” said a Democratic strategist. “A complete and utter failure on the part of our party. They are just beginning to redeem themselves.

“If Republicans can tap into the culture wars, so should we. We should play the ugly,” said a Democratic strategist. “We should remind everyone every day that what they are doing is disgusting and despicable. We should remind everyone that they are not uplifting women, they are sending us back to the dark ages.

When Graham dropped his bill last week, political observers called it a lifeline for Democrats after data released earlier in the day showed inflation continued to rise in August.

And the bad news for Republicans continued this week with Graham’s apparent U-turn saying abortion shouldn’t be a state issue, in opposition to other members of his party like the leader. Senate Minority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who has since reiterated that abortion decisions should be left to the states.

Carney argued that one of the problems for Republicans is that abortion was a more effective political tool and topic of discussion before Roe v. Wade is actually canceled this summer.

“Republicans raised a lot of money to unseat Roe and got a lot of support from their conservative base on this issue,” he said. “But now what? The dog grabbed the car, what are they going to do now?

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