Lindsey Graham abortion ban invoice splits GOP on midterm message

Republicans are distancing themselves from Sen. Lindsey Graham’s new proposal to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of being pregnant, as Democrats maintain up the invoice as proof the GOP seeks to limit abortion nationwide if it wins management of Congress within the November midterm elections.

In Graham’s proposal, Democrats see one other likelihood to leverage a problem that has appeared to spice up their possibilities of holding at the least one chamber of Congress.

The South Carolina Republican launched the legislation lower than three months after the Supreme Court docket struck down Roe v. Wade, overturning decades-old federal abortion protections — and positioning abortion as a high situation within the midterms.

Graham’s announcement on Tuesday drove a recent wave of headlines about abortion, as Democrats lined as much as condemn the invoice that might sharply slender entry to the process in blue states. It siphoned consideration away from one other main headline of the day, a worse-than-expected inflation report that sent stocks plunging and was seen as a blow to the Biden administration’s claims of a recovering financial system.

Graham’s method additionally contradicted a technique taken by some Republicans, together with these in high-profile races, after the excessive courtroom’s abortion ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Girls’s Well being Group. Many within the GOP have argued states, slightly than the federal authorities, ought to set abortion regulation.

In Pennsylvania, one among a handful of battleground states that can decide which social gathering wins the Senate, the brand new invoice spurred Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz to say that he would hold the federal authorities from interfering with state-level abortion guidelines if elected. However Herschel Walker, the Republican vying for incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock’s Georgia seat in one other important race, mentioned he would again Graham’s laws.

In each states, the Democratic candidates used the difficulty to bash their GOP rivals.

“Oz wants to inform us — sure or no, would you help this invoice?” Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the state’s Democratic Senate nominee, mentioned in a press release Thursday morning. “I am going to go first: I am a HELL NO.”

Graham’s transfer baffled even some Republican political consultants. Some media shops panned it as an unforced error at a pivotal second when the battle over the Home and Senate seems to have tightened.

“I do not know why he did it,” mentioned Georgia-based GOP strategist Jay Williams. He instructed that Republicans’ midterm pitch ought to focus totally on the financial system, the place President Joe Biden has scored low approval marks.

“If you happen to’re successful the sport, you do not change methods,” Williams mentioned. “If we’re speaking about anything, I believe it is a unhealthy thought.”

Seth Weathers, a former Trump marketing campaign aide in Georgia and political strategist, mentioned he’s “just a little fearful that the way in which it should be offered to the general public might harm Republicans within the midterms.”

Julianne Thompson, a political strategist and self-described pro-life Republican, mentioned the financial system “is the difficulty that’s successful for Republicans proper now and the difficulty they should be centered on.”

Nationwide GOP teams have hardly leapt to again Graham this week.

Facebook and Twitter pages for the Nationwide Republican Congressional Committee, the Nationwide Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican Nationwide Committee haven’t talked about or promoted Graham’s invoice because it was introduced. None of these teams’ Fb pages have launched advertisements associated to the invoice, in keeping with the Meta Advert Library.

A Twitter account managed by the RNC tweeted about abortion with out mentioning Graham on Wednesday, when it accused a pair of Democrats, Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams and Home Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, of refusing to acknowledge any limits to the process. The NRSC on Wednesday did the identical, tweeting a criticism of the abortion stance of Democratic Rep. Val Demings, who’s difficult GOP Sen. Marco Rubio for his seat in Florida.

Graham tried to border his laws as a response to Democrat-led proposals to codify abortion protections on the federal stage. One such invoice, put ahead in Might in response to a draft of the courtroom’s ruling on Roe, failed in the Senate.

“They selected a invoice that might not put us within the mainstream of the world however put us in a bunch of seven nations that permit abortion on demand just about as much as the purpose of beginning,” Graham mentioned at a press convention Tuesday.

Graham mentioned his invoice, which bans the process at 15 weeks’ gestation and consists of exceptions for rape, incest and to avoid wasting the lifetime of the mom, would set America’s abortion coverage at a stage that’s “pretty in keeping with the remainder of the world.”

“And that ought to be the place America’s at,” the senator mentioned.

The plan would go away in place stricter state abortion legal guidelines. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., has put ahead a companion invoice for the Home.

Whereas the title of Graham’s invoice suggests it could bar solely “late-term” abortions, it could limit the process nationwide after lower than 4 months of being pregnant, a threshold that falls throughout the second trimester. Abortions are usually thought-about “late time period” at 21 weeks of being pregnant or later, in keeping with the health-policy nonprofit KFF. However the group notes that phrase will not be an official medical time period, and that abortions at that stage are hardly ever sought and troublesome to acquire.

Graham’s invoice has just about no likelihood of passing the present Congress, the place Democrats maintain slim majorities within the Home and Senate. Republicans hope to take over each chambers within the midterms, when the incumbent president’s social gathering has traditionally underperformed.

However some forecasters at the moment are favoring Democrats to keep control of the Senate, a shift that has been attributed in part to the excessive courtroom’s ruling in Dobbs. Republicans are favored to take the House, although the percentages have moved barely towards Democrats after that ruling got here out in late June.

Public opinion of the excessive courtroom sunk after Dobbs, which overturned Roe in a 5-4 vote by a majority that features three justices nominated by former President Donald Trump. Abortion rights, in the meantime, have spiked as a high situation amongst voters.

A Fox News poll carried out in September and launched Wednesday discovered 57% of voters help authorized abortion in all or most instances, a 13-point soar from Might.

The identical survey confirmed that voters’ opposition to the Dobbs resolution has solely grown within the months because it got here out, as respondent disapproval outweighed approval by almost a 2 to 1 margin. And the survey discovered that amongst voters who see abortion as a chief concern, 56% would again the Democrat of their Home district, versus 27% who would select the Republican.

Some Republicans, together with GOP candidates in pivotal Senate races, have backed Graham’s new proposal.

“I’ve at all times been pro-life,” Rubio mentioned when requested why he signed on to the invoice. He pressed reporters to ask Democrats what abortion restrictions they’d help, if any.

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate Republican, mentioned he backed the invoice. He advised CNN that it modifications the narrative that Republicans help a complete abortion ban “and provides candidates a spot to be for one thing that displays their views and does not match the Democrats’ narrative.”

Pennsylvania-based Republican political strategist Christopher Nicholas echoed that view, telling CNBC that Graham’s invoice marked “the primary strategic response from our aspect on this situation because the Dobbs resolution.”

“It might pressure the press to get the [Democrats] to acknowledge that the one accepted abortion place on their aspect is abortion on demand,” Nicholas mentioned.

However different high Republicans both refused to again Graham’s invoice or expressed a perception that particular person states ought to set their very own abortion legal guidelines.

“I believe many of the members of my convention choose that this can be handled on the state stage,” Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who would set the GOP’s abortion agenda if the social gathering wins Senate management in November, advised reporters Tuesday when requested about Graham’s invoice.

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the chairman of the NRSC, didn’t categorical help for the invoice throughout an interview Wednesday on Fox Information.

“Effectively, if you happen to go across the nation, what persons are centered on is the financial system, their youngsters’ training, public security,” Scott mentioned when requested concerning the laws. “With regard to abortion, Democrats are clearly centered on abortion,” he added.

Requested for touch upon the reactions to the invoice, Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop famous that Rubio “has come on board.”

Republicans have lengthy opposed abortion, and quite a few red states imposed blanket bans on the process instantly after Roe’s reversal. However as polls present nearly all of Individuals disapprove of the courtroom’s ruling — and as ladies reportedly outpace males in voter registrations in key states — many within the GOP have struggled to counter Democrats, who’ve made abortion a serious piece of their message.

“Though abortion will not be going to determine the midterms, it has been a problem that Democrats have been fundraising on and utilizing to get extra ladies registered to vote,” mentioned Thompson, the Republican strategist.

“I’m very cognizant of the truth that my social gathering wants higher messaging on this situation,” together with extra ladies leaders talking about abortion and associated points, she mentioned.

The RNC earlier this week suggested campaigns to hunt “frequent floor” on exceptions to abortion bans, and to press Democrats on their very own views, The Washington Submit reported Wednesday. The nationwide social gathering additionally inspired candidates to deal with subjects similar to crime and the financial system, the Submit reported.

“The polls should be educating them one thing, as a result of I am not listening to about abortion in the present day,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., mentioned on the Home ground Wednesday. “What’s their place now? America needs to know.”

Some Republican candidates who beforehand touted hardline positions on abortion throughout GOP primaries have softened or muted their views as they compete typically elections. As Graham’s invoice introduced a renewed focus to the difficulty, Democrats pounced.

“Herschel Walker thinks it is an issue our nation does not have a nationwide abortion ban,” Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., mentioned of his Republican rival in a tweet Tuesday, earlier than posting a video of Walker saying as much.

In Pennsylvania, Fetterman scheduled a press convention with OB/GYNs at Philadelphia metropolis corridor to criticize the proposed 15-week abortion ban. He pushed his opponent, Oz, to reply questions on his stance on the invoice.

Oz, the Trump-backed superstar physician who’s trailing Fetterman within the polls, “is pro-life with three exceptions: lifetime of the mom, rape and incest,” his spokeswoman Brittany Yanick mentioned in a press release.

“And as a senator, he’d wish to be sure that the federal authorities will not be concerned in interfering with the state’s choices on the subject,” she mentioned.

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