Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections.
Zach Montellaro and Ally Mutnick:
Democrats have been hammering GOP candidates on abortion since the fall of Roe v. Wade. That’s left some Republicans scrambling to try to figure out how to soften the blow.
A number of Republicans are trying to avoid political fallout from the Dobbs decision by quietly deemphasizing their past position on abortion on campaign websites and on the trail. Another handful of GOP candidates — especially those in contests in states that are more of a reach for the party — have gone up with TV ads looking to counter Democrats’ attacks on abortion.
Among the earliest Republicans pushing back on the issue on TV was Mark Ronchetti, a one-time TV meteorologist who is challenging Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in New Mexico this year, after losing a close race for the state’s open Senate seat two years ago.
“I’m personally pro-life, but I believe we can all come together on a policy that reflects our shared values,” Ronchetti says in the ad, saying that Lujan Grisham was “extreme” on abortion. “We can end late-term abortion, while protecting access to contraception and health care.”
The Life at Conception Act is fewer than 300 words, but its language leaves little room for ambiguity on abortion.
The bill, introduced in the U.S. House earlier in the congressional session, seeks “equal protection for the right to life of each born and preborn human person,” specifying that it covers “all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.”
Put simply: “It would be a nationwide abortion ban,” said Mary Ziegler, a professor at UC Davis School of Law who studies reproductive rights. Even California, which has positioned itself as a haven for abortion rights, would be affected.
The legislation was co-sponsored by more than half of California’s Republican congressional delegation — including three representatives who face highly competitive races in the November midterm elections: Reps. Michelle Steel of Seal Beach, Mike Garcia of Santa Clarita and David Valadao of Hanford.
But in the two months since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling overturned Roe vs. Wade, stripping away constitutional protections for abortion, the candidates have been noticeably quiet on the issue. Nationally, Republican candidates in tight races have appeared on the defensive, releasing ads downplaying their antiabortion stances. Instead of celebrating the monumental reversal of Roe vs. Wade, the GOP is trying to turn the focus elsewhere, even as Democrats aim to keep the spotlight fixed on it.
Arizona Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters softened his tone and scrubbed his website's policy page of tough abortion restrictions Thursday as his party reels from the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
In an ad posted to Twitter on Thursday, Masters sought to portray his opponent, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, as the extremist on the issue while describing his own views as "commonsense."
"Look, I support a ban on very late-term and partial-birth abortion," he said. "And most Americans agree with that. That would just put us on par with other civilized nations." (Late-term abortions are extremely rare, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker.)
Just after it released the ad, Masters' campaign published an overhaul of his website and softened his rhetoric, rewriting or erasing five of his six positions. NBC News took screenshots of the website before and after it was changed. Masters' website appeared to have been refreshed after NBC News reached out for clarification about his abortion stances.
"I am 100% pro-life," Masters' website read as of Thursday morning.
That language is now gone.
Tom Barrett, the GOP nominee in Michigan’s 7th Congressional District, recently removed the “values” section of his campaign website that contained information about his anti-abortion beliefs.
When asked about the purpose of removing this section, Barrett told the Detroit News that he had no knowledge of the website being changed.
“I don’t watch my own website every day, so I don’t know why,” Barrett told the Detroit News. “But I am sure we probably were updating things based upon the issues that were most salient right now, which are inflation, crime, border security. Those are really the four pillars that are the leading issues that voters are most concerned with.”