Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Thursday that Republican candidates for office must take a clear position on abortion for their campaigns to be competitive, according to comments reported by Politico.
After the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court, Democrats have made opposition to GOP-led abortion restrictions a key political argument in elections, leading some in the GOP to suggest that the party must minimize the issue during campaigns. McDaniel, who has chaired the RNC since 2017, refuted that notion on Fox News in response to remarks by candidates at the first Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, according to Politico.
“I was very pleased to see them talk about abortion … if our candidates aren’t able to fend a response [on abortion] and put out a response, we’re not going to win,” said McDaniel. “Democrats used that in 2022 … they’re going to do it again in 2024,” she warned, before complimenting the candidates on their responses to a question on whether they support a federal ban on abortion.
— Stephen Taylor (@stephen_taylor) August 24, 2023
Speaking of a federal ban, former Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina suggested that the difficulties of passing national legislation on the issue, requiring 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster, required the party to “find consensus” on the subject. “Can’t we all agree that we should ban late-term abortions? Can’t we all agree that we should encourage adoptions? Can’t we all agree that doctors and nurses who don’t believe in abortions shouldn’t have to perform them?”
She was opposed by former Vice President Mike Pence, who said “Nikki, you’re my friend, but consensus is the opposite of leadership … It’s a moral issue.” Pence said that he supports “minimum standard in every state in the nation … when a baby is capable of feeling pain, an abortion should not be allowed.”
Pence’s standard of fetal pain, which usually occurs after 15 weeks of pregnancy, has been proposed by several Republican officials such as Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who introduced legislation in the 117th Congress to restrict abortions after that period nationwide.
A national restriction of abortion, however, has been opposed by others. On stage, Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota said that he believed a national restriction was unconstitutional, citing the 10th Amendment, which states that “[t]he powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people.”
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, the candidate on stage with the greatest level of support in polls, declined to say whether he would support federal restrictions on abortion akin to legislation he signed in his state, which restricts abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.
A Gallup poll in June suggested that 85% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in, at least, some circumstances.
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