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A Viable Political Strategy?

Democrats embrace late-term abortion at their peril.

Aug 5, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 44 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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The extent to which the late-term abortion issue can reshape the abortion debate in favor of pro-lifers, as the partial-birth abortion debate did, depends in part on whether Republican candidates actually make an argument. In 1997, Gallup found that Americans backed a partial-birth abortion ban by a 15-point margin (55 percent to 40 percent). But in 2003, the margin of support had grown to 45 points (70 percent to 25 percent). Debate can and does change opinions.

In the wake of the damaging comments on abortion made by Missouri and Indiana Senate candidates in 2012, Republican consultants and aides privately say that many GOP politicians are still skittish and don’t want to talk about the issue at all. But silence is simply copying the Romney campaign’s unsuccessful playbook. 

In 2012, roughly 10 percent of the Obama campaign’s TV ads were on abortion. Many of the ads falsely claimed Romney favored banning abortion in the case of rape, and the Romney campaign’s only response was to run a few ads informing voters that Romney did support that exception—without ever attacking Obama’s extremism on the issue. The real lesson of the 2012 election and the Romney campaign is that it’s hard to win an argument if you aren’t willing to make an argument.

John McCormack is a staff writer at The Weekly Standard.

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