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GOP candidates soften tone on abortion for midterm election


DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Throughout a major debate in Could, Iowa Republican Zach Nunn and his two rivals had been requested to lift their hand in the event that they thought all abortions must be unlawful. “All abortions, no exceptions,” the moderator clarified.

Nunn’s left hand went up.

The picture has shadowed the Iowa state senator as he seeks to unseat U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, one of the crucial susceptible Home Democrats this election season. The 2-term congresswoman has featured video of Nunn from the controversy in TV advertisements she’s been working since early August.

Nunn is amongst nicely greater than a dozen strictly anti-abortion Republicans working in aggressive Home, Senate and governor’s races this fall in Minnesota, Nevada, Kansas, Arizona and elsewhere who’re attempting to distance themselves from their previous statements.

In newspaper op-eds, throughout interviews and on their marketing campaign web sites, Republican challengers who expressed help for banning most or all abortions — some in circumstances of rape, incest and to guard the life and well being of the mom — are at a minimal downplaying these positions and at most backtracking at a time when abortion rights have difficult Republicans’ concentrate on the financial system heading into the November midterm elections.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision recognizing a federal right to abortion, has prompted a backlash from abortion rights supporters and shined a light-weight on politicians whose anti-abortion positions had been solely hypothetical when Roe was the regulation of the land.

“I feel that the bait and swap will matter for these for whom abortion rights is a vital voting subject, which is an expanded group since Roe was overturned,” Christine Matthews, a pollster who has labored for Republicans, mentioned of GOP candidates attempting to melt their profile on the problem. “And it might matter to a wider group if it seems that they’re misleading.”

Accusing Axne of misrepresenting his place, Nunn wrote in an op-ed revealed in The Des Moines Register final month that he supported exceptions for rape, incest and the life and well being of the mom when he voted in 2018 for a ban on abortions after six weeks — a measure that was blocked by the courts.

Requested in an Related Press interview why he raised his hand to the “no exceptions” query in the course of the debate, Nunn misstated the query as “Do you help life?” as an alternative of the particular wording, “In your thoughts, ought to all abortions be unlawful on this nation? Hand up in case you say sure.”

“Let me be completely clear. I consider life begins at conception,” Nunn mentioned within the interview. “I acknowledge the viability of a kid. I acknowledge the well being of the mom.”

Nonetheless, in 2017, Nunn voted for a measure requiring girls looking for an abortion to attend 72 hours, which included an exception to guard the lifetime of the mom however made no point out of rape or incest.

In Kansas, Republican Amanda Adkins — who’s working towards two-term Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids — wrote in a Kansas Metropolis Star op-ed revealed final week, “I don’t help a federal ban on abortion.”

The point out got here after months of silence by Adkins after the Could leak of a draft Supreme Court docket opinion signaling Roe was in jeopardy. A decade earlier as Kansas’ Republican chair, Adkins had supported a strict abortion ban within the social gathering’s platform.

Adkins’ Star piece additionally adopted shut on the heels of Kansas voters’ decisive rejection of a constitutional amendment that would have nullified a state Supreme Court decision guaranteeing the right to an abortion. Notably, the referendum failed in Johnson County — the teeming, suburban coronary heart of Davids’ district — by greater than 2-to-1. Adkins publicly supported the modification.

Nunn’s and Adkins’ efforts to deemphasize their earlier conservative stances on abortion are conspicuous. Others have been extra refined.

In a northwest Indiana district that features working-class cities outdoors Chicago, Republican Jennifer-Ruth Inexperienced answered “none” in a 2022 on-line questionnaire earlier than the Supreme Court docket overturned Roe that requested below “what circumstances ought to abortion be allowed?”

But, because the GOP nominee dealing with Democratic Rep. Frank Mrvan, Inexperienced says she helps an anti-abortion measure handed by the Indiana legislature in August that features exceptions for rape, incest and the well being of the mom.

In suburban Minneapolis, Republican Tyler Kistner, who misplaced narrowly to two-term Democratic Rep. Angie Craig in 2020, is difficult her once more. In 2020, his web site included a bit on abortion that said he needed to eradicate federal funding for Deliberate Parenthood. On this 12 months’s marketing campaign, his web site doesn’t point out abortion.

Republicans working statewide in battleground races have undertaken related efforts.

Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters referred to as abortion “demonic” in the course of the GOP major and referred to as for a federal personhood regulation that might give fetuses the rights of individuals. He’s toned down his rhetoric extra just lately, deleting references to a personhood regulation from his marketing campaign web site and dropping language describing himself as “100% pro-life.”

In Nevada, the place a 1990 referendum ensures the fitting to abortion, Republican gubernatorial candidate Joe Lombardo mentioned throughout a Could major debate that he would think about signing a ban on the Plan B tablet. The tablet, which is totally different from the abortion tablet, can considerably decrease the possibility of being pregnant if taken inside 72 hours of unprotected intercourse.

In August, after Justice Clarence Thomas indicated within the Roe reversal that different excessive court docket rulings, including ones protecting the use of contraceptives, also needs to be reconsidered, Lombardo mentioned he wouldn’t block contraceptives and has since famous on his web site that he would “be certain that contraceptives keep accessible to Nevadans.”

Within the rapid aftermath of the Dobbs v. Mississippi resolution overturning Roe, an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll showed 22% of U.S. adults named abortion or women’s rights, in an open-ended question, as one of up to five problems they wanted the government to address. That’s greater than doubled since December, when an AP-NORC ballot discovered a notable uptick in mentions of abortion from years earlier than, seemingly in anticipation of the Dobbs ruling.

In Iowa, 60% of adults say abortion must be authorized in most or all circumstances, in response to a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Ballot taken in July, larger nonetheless within the suburbs.

That might appear to be a consideration for Nunn, working in Iowa’s third Congressional District, which incorporates the metro space surrounding the capital Des Moines and its booming suburbs to the north and west, in addition to huge tracts of extra conservative, rural southwestern Iowa.

“Whereas it’s a small group on either side, it energizes them as a result of it’s an necessary subject,” Nunn mentioned, including that Axne is “not even keen to have a dialog about the place she’s been on this.”

The counterpunch is a veiled reference to payments together with one passed in July in the Democratic-controlled House with Axne’s support that block limits on abortions late in a pregnancy — a place Republicans have characterised as excessive.

Republican pollster Whit Ayres mentioned Dobbs has reversed earlier Republican momentum by growing enthusiasm amongst abortion rights advocates.

“Clearly there’s been motion within the Democrats’ favor,” mentioned Ayres, who’s an adviser for an excellent PAC supporting Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s marketing campaign. “The Dobbs resolution gave them a cause to get engaged, and that’s evident in elevated Democratic enthusiasm.”


Related Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix, Hannah Schoenbaum in Raleigh, N.C., and Gabe Stern in Reno, Nev., contributed to this report.


Comply with AP for full protection of the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter, https://twitter.com/ap_politics.

For AP’s full protection on abortion, go to https://apnews.com/hub/abortion

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