Lindsey Graham abortion ban bill 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 bill 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 probability to leverage a problem that has appeared to spice up their probabilities of holding no less than one chamber of Congress.

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

Graham’s announcement on Tuesday drove a contemporary wave of headlines about abortion, as Democrats lined as much as condemn the bill that will sharply slim 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 despatched shares 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 Women’s Health Organization. Many within the GOP have argued states, moderately than the federal authorities, ought to set abortion legislation.

In Pennsylvania, one in all a handful of battleground states that may decide which get together wins the Senate, the brand new bill spurred Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz to say that he would preserve the federal authorities from interfering with state-level abortion guidelines if elected. But Herschel Walker, the Republican vying for incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock’s Georgia seat in one other essential race, mentioned he would again Graham’s laws.

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

“Oz needs to tell us — yes or no, would you support this bill?” Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the state’s Democratic Senate nominee, mentioned in an announcement Thursday morning. “I’ll go first: I’m a HELL NO.”

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

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

“If you’re winning the game, you don’t switch strategies,” Williams mentioned. “If we’re talking about anything else, I think it’s a bad idea.”

Seth Weathers, a former Trump marketing campaign aide in Georgia and political strategist, mentioned he’s “a little fearful that the way it’s going to be sold to the public could hurt Republicans in the midterms.”

Julianne Thompson, a political strategist and self-described pro-life Republican, mentioned the financial system “is the issue that is winning for Republicans right now and the issue they need to be focused on.”

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

Facebook and Twitter pages for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee haven’t talked about or promoted Graham’s bill because it was introduced. None of these teams’ Facebook pages have launched adverts associated to the bill, in line with the Meta Ad 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 House 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 degree. One such bill, put ahead in May in response to a draft of the courtroom’s ruling on Roe, failed within the Senate.

“They chose a bill that would not put us in the mainstream of the world but put us in a group of seven nations that allow abortion on demand pretty much up to the point of birth,” Graham mentioned at a press convention Tuesday.

Graham mentioned his bill, which bans the process at 15 weeks’ gestation and contains exceptions for rape, incest and to avoid wasting the lifetime of the mom, would set America’s abortion coverage at a degree that’s “fairly consistent with the rest of the world.”

“And that should be where 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 bill for the House.

While the title of Graham’s bill 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 inside the second trimester. Abortions are usually thought-about “late term” at 21 weeks of being pregnant or later, in line with the health-policy nonprofit KFF. But the group notes that phrase just isn’t an official medical time period, and that abortions at that stage are hardly ever sought and tough to acquire.

Graham’s bill has nearly no probability of passing the present Congress, the place Democrats maintain slim majorities within the House and Senate. Republicans hope to take over each chambers within the midterms, when the incumbent president’s get together has traditionally underperformed.

But some forecasters at the moment are favoring Democrats to maintain management of the Senate, a shift that has been attributed partially 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 challenge amongst voters.

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

The identical survey confirmed that voters’ opposition to the Dobbs choice 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 House 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 have always been pro-life,” Rubio mentioned when requested why he signed on to the bill. 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 bill. He informed CNN that it modifications the narrative that Republicans help a complete abortion ban “and gives candidates a place to be for something that reflects their views and doesn’t fit the Democrats’ narrative.”

Pennsylvania-based Republican political strategist Christopher Nicholas echoed that view, telling CNBC that Graham’s bill marked “the first strategic response from our side on this issue since the Dobbs decision.”

“It could force the press to get the [Democrats] to acknowledge that the only accepted abortion position on their side is abortion on demand,” Nicholas mentioned.

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

“I think most of the members of my conference prefer that this will be dealt with at the state level,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who would set the GOP’s abortion agenda if the get together wins Senate management in November, informed reporters Tuesday when requested about Graham’s bill.

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the chairman of the NRSC, didn’t specific help for the bill throughout an interview Wednesday on Fox News.

“Well, if you go around the country, what people are focused on is the economy, their kids’ education, public safety,” Scott mentioned when requested in regards to the laws. “With regard to abortion, Democrats are clearly focused on abortion,” he added.

Asked for remark on the reactions to the bill, Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop famous that Rubio “has come on board.”

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

“Although abortion is not going to decide the midterms, it has been an issue that Democrats have been fundraising on and using to get more women registered to vote,” mentioned Thompson, the Republican strategist.

“I am very cognizant of the fact that my party needs better messaging on this issue,” together with extra girls leaders talking about abortion and associated points, she mentioned.

The RNC earlier this week suggested campaigns to hunt “common ground” on exceptions to abortion bans, and to press Democrats on their very own views, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. The nationwide get together additionally inspired candidates to focus on subjects resembling crime and the financial system, the Post reported.

“The polls must be teaching them something, because I’m not hearing about abortion today,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., mentioned on the House ground Wednesday. “What is their position now? America wants to know.”

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

“Herschel Walker thinks it’s a problem our country doesn’t have a national 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 a lot.

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 bill.

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

“And as a senator, he’d want to make sure that the federal government is not involved in interfering with the state’s decisions on the topic,” she mentioned.

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