As most federal and state races for political office enter the general election phase, a number of anti-abortion Republicans are scrambling to appeal to voters who don’t share their extremist ideals.
Sixty percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in most or all circumstances, according to a recent USA Today/Ipsos poll. Republicans who won their primaries by flaunting their anti-abortion views are likely aware of these numbers — and they are now sanitizing their ideology in order to appeal to a wider slate of voters in the upcoming general elections.
Many GOP candidates have been quietly removing their anti-abortion stances from their campaign websites. Arizona Republican Blake Masters, who is running against Sen. Mark Kelly (D), is attempting to soften his image by highlighting his support for bans on so-called “late- and partial-birth abortions” in campaign videos. But Masters’s website previously said that he backs a federal “personhood” law that would ban almost all abortion across the country. Masters also bragged on his website that he was “100 percent” anti-abortion.
Those statements are now nowhere to be found on his site.
GOP challenger Tom Barrett, who is facing off against Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin in a hotly contested Michigan congressional race, has deleted the entire section on abortion from his website. That section included his belief that abortion should be banned at all stages of pregnancy.
New Mexico Republican Mark Ronchetti, who is running against Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, is also softening his anti-abortion rhetoric. Ronchetti has strong ties to extremist groups like Right to Life and has previously expressed support for banning abortion at all stages of pregnancy. But his tone in recent ads is markedly different.
“I’m personally pro-life, but I believe we can all come together on a policy that reflects our shared values,” he said in a recent campaign video.
The shift in tone comes as other polling indicates that abortion will play a big role in this year’s midterms, which are set to take place just months after the Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade and upend abortion protections across the country. According to Pew Research Center, 56 percent of registered voters consider abortion a “top issue” — a 13-point jump from March of this year.
“Now that [rights to accessing abortion] are being dismantled, [Republicans] have to confront the fact that most voters never wanted abortion to disappear,” Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman wrote this week. “They’ve chosen to do so by evading, distracting and misleading.”
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