The Jay Weber Show

The Jay Weber Show

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GOP candidates need to figure out their messaging on abortion

Jay Weber Show transcript 5-18-23 6:10am

The abortion issue-and how republicans are going to deal with it in the 2024 election, is starting to get interesting.  

After trying to ignore the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v Wade and had state laws like Wisconsin's 1849 abortion ban kicking back into place...Republicans- as a group- seemed to think that they could largely ignore the issue in the fall of 2022 elections, and expected to have a ‘wave election’, anyway. 

That didn’t happen-and the exit polling and overall voting patterns strongly suggested that the left’s voters were highly motivated by the abortion issue, and it was probably the biggest reason that the red wave election didn’t occur. 

So now republicans are looking ahead to 2024 and realizing that they are actually going to have to ‘up’ their game, and take clearer and stronger positions on the abortion issue, and hopefully find a rhetorical ‘sweet spot’ that appeals to most voters, on the issue. 

 And they can.  

And they can, because in truth, most Americans are closer to the ‘pro-life’ position and ‘rare but legal’ positions that today’s conservatives and democrats are taking...Than they are to the ‘no holds barred, no abortion is too late in the pregnancy or too out of bounds’ position that today's democrats have. 

Polls have consistently shown that 2/3 of Americans or more support a limit on abortions that falls somewhere within 12 weeks.   And when it comes to Republican voters, specifically, 70 percent support an abortion ban that falls within six weeks. 

And so- if the republicans are going to leave the ‘rhetorical field’ on abortion completely to the democrats, yes, it’s bound to be another key issue for swing voters in 2024, but if the candidates and the party are smarter, and start to carve out and explain more reasonable positions on abortion and highlight how it is the democrats who have the indefensible position on this issue: of, kill the baby, any time, anywhere, even post-delivery if the mom wants, and we’ll just call murder abortion. 

That is not a reasonable position on abortion, and it is not one that more than about 20 percent of Americans agree with. 

And so, there are strong, reasonable positions to be taken here, when it comes to defending life and still reassuring voters that there isn’t some ‘handmaid’s tale’ sort of future in store for them and their daughters. 

What we have seen around the country since roe-v-wade was overturned, is a number of red states moving to impose first trimester abortion bans-some as short as five or six weeks after conception-and some as long as 12 to 15- weeks, but these are republican state legislatures that are willing to compromise on the issue- and land somewhere between-blanket ban-and -abortion till birth. 

Yesterday, North Carolina's republican controlled legislature overrode a governor’s veto-and put a twelve-week abortion ban into place in that state. 

It’s a state with a democrat governor, roy cooper. He vetoed the bill, but the pro-lifers had the numbers on both chambers of the legislature to override it.  North Carolina already had a 20 week ban in place...But this moves it up to twelve-to outlaw abortions after the first trimester.  

This is progress for the pro-life movement, and yet, in a bizarre move, Donald Trump blasted Ron DeSantis for signing that six-week ban, claiming it was too restrictive. 

That move only made sense to Donald trump- because he’s been trying to trash and disqualify ron DeSantis for months...And so.... Under those rules...Anything DeSantis does needs to be bashed and he needs to be called a poo-poo head. 

 And so, Trump did. Trump called DeSantis's bill too restrictive and stupid.   It was a pretty dumb move in a republican primary, and at a time in which Christian conservatives and pro-life leaders were already upset with trump and starting to abandon him- 

And as you might expect-Trump’s ‘hot take’ on Florida's new law infuriated them even further. 

And by the way- when it comes to GOP voters- a six-week abortion ban is right in the ‘sweet spot’ of what most republicans say they support. 

It wasn’t a political mistake that Governor DeSantis wanted the Florida legislature to pass that bill-now- and it wasn’t a coincidence that DeSantis's team had a big, public ceremony, as he signed it.     

Still- DeSantis did it. Trump says he’s a poo-poo head. So, Trump bashed him. 

There’s been a backlash within the pro-life and Christian conservative communities ever since- against trump. It’s only logical that there would be. 

This has been going on for two or three weeks-ever since DeSantis signed the bill- we’ve seen more and more stories about how pro-lifers and religious groups are disillusioned with Donald Trump for not ‘standing up for life’.... 

And to clarify- I believe Donald Trump was criticizing DeSantis's move as a ‘political mistake’. 

I took trump’s criticism to be that’s the wrong place to fall in a general election. Most voters are going to find that too restrictive. 

I don’t believe trump was abandoning his pro-life position-but the activists and religious leaders took it that way- 

And look- this is what happens when you bleep around and hop all over, position to position, and make yourself look inconsistent, just so you can bash others at every turn, as trump is doing. 

A lot of his DeSantis criticisms make him- Trump- look like an ass, because he-trump-has had the same position in the past.    

I think it’s foolish for trump to try to ‘own’ DeSantis by bashing DeSantis for positions that they both shared.    

Anyway- I will defend trump on the six-week abortion comment in the sense that – he wasn’t abandoning the pro-life position. He was talking ‘general election political strategy’. 

Still- pro-life groups have been upset at him ever since- for a few weeks now.   New this week- one of the top evangelical leaders in Iowa is saying it’s time to turn the page on Donald Trump if he’s going to abandon the pro-life cause. 

In his zeal to ruin and attack DeSantis, Trump has been using democrat talking points and sounding foolish. To the point that even trump supporters are doing a double-take and saying- he said what, now?  

And I don’t think he’s made a bigger misstep than on this issue: abortion.  

And trump and his team must know it, because i notice that over the last few days, he has tried to re-take the pro-life ground that he’s lost- all at once-by saying, hey, I'm the guy who ended roe-v-wade. I put the pro-life justices on the court that got it done. 

And he’s correct, of course. 

But this- to me- is evidence that Donald Trump is going to try to win back those disillusioned pro-lifers and Christian conservatives who polls show have been slowly drifting away from him...Ever since the fall election losses. 

Trump has been gun-shy about ‘picking a number’ when it comes to when he believes abortion should be banned. He said six weeks was too restrictive-so -where do you, sir, think that we should place a ban? 12 weeks? 15? 

So far, trump refuses to say. 

Which these pro-life leaders also find irksome. They want total bans, and view it from that perspective: how ‘weak’ is trump going to be, here? 

At some point in the primary, he’s going to have to pick a number. 

And by the way-that is DeSantis's retort to trump’s criticism: I'm protecting life. I’m not playing political games. What do you support, Donald? 

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in the primary.  

They’re all going to have to have a clear position. 

Nikki Haley also angered some pro-life groups this week by admitting that a national ban on abortion also isn’t likely to happen. And this is a good example of how this entire issue can make your head hurt: for fifty years, one of the strongest arguments against roe-v-wade was that it’s an issue that belongs in the states. A federal law is unconstitutional. This issue needs to be delt with in the states... 

And so.... The supreme court overturns roe. The pro-life groups and conservatives like me who have been arguing that have finally won- and what drumbeat to some pro-life activists immediately shift to? Now we need a federal ban on abortion. 

Huhhhh.... For 50 years, you argued otherwise. Do you have any integrity, or not? 

The issue is in the states, where it belongs.  

But the republicans have a chance to take a popular position on abortion and paint the democrats ‘no abortions barred’ position as extreme-because it is. And they need to work it out over the next few months. 

photo credit: Getty Images

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