Via Guy Benson, we have our second example of narrative-flipping in the GOP field in a week related to the Planned Parenthood videos. Jake Tapper asked Carly Fiorina about Scott Walker’s signing of a ban on late-term abortions (after 20 weeks, halfway through a pregnancy), after Hillary Clinton called the restrictions “dangerous” because the bill did not include exceptions for rape or incest. Instead of just operating under the premise of the question, Fiorina shifted the argument to the extremism of Hillary Clinton’s positions on abortion, and her lack of response to the exposés of Planned Parenthood’s organ-harvesting efforts:
Let’s talk about the legislation that’s sitting on the senate floor right now, which does allow for [exceptions for rape and incest]. Let’s also talk about Hillary Clinton’s position. Let’s talk about what extreme is. “It’s not a life until it leaves the hospital.” That’s Hillary Clinton’s position. It’s Hillary Clinton’s position that a thirteen year old girl needs her mother’s permission to go to a tanning salon or get a tattoo, but not to get an abortion. It’s Hillary Clinton’s position that women should not be permitted to look at an ultrasound before an abortion, and yet people are trying to harvest body parts can use an ultasound to make sure those body parts are preserved so they can be sold. That, Jake, is extreme.
As Guy notes, all sorts of polling bears that out, as he and Mary Katharine argued in their book End of Discussion. Rape and incest exceptions in this context are somewhat of a non-sequitur when it comes to late-term abortion anyway, because such issues would almost certainly have arisen before the five-month mark of a pregnancy. It’s also worth noting that less than 2% of all abortions result from pregnancies involving rape or incest, data that comes from the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute as well as the CDC. Almost all abortions in the US are simply elective for convenience, which makes this line of questioning all but irrelevant as well as easily parried, as Fiorina does here.
She continues when Tapper tries to focus again on the exceptions, an issue raised by Hillary Clinton in her attack on Walker’s action on the bill:
I would really be delighted if, for once, the media would ask Hillary Clinton about the extremism of her position. It’s not a life — it’s not a life until it leaves the hospital. My position is very clear, it’s been clear and consistent ever since I ran for the Senate in 2010. Anyone can look it up. Yes, I support exceptions. But the majority of the American people now believe that abortion for any reason at all, to be paid for by taxpayers, after five months is an abomination. And this videotape, whether you’re a pro-choice woman or a pro-life woman, this videotape is depraved. The casual nature with which these people are talking about fetuses and tissue and specimens, I tell you what — if a woman was looking at that ultrasound at that same stage in her pregnancy, the doctor would not be talking about fetuses or specimens or tissues. They would be saying, “Look at your baby’s heartbeat, look at your baby’s eyes, look at your baby’s organs.”
Note that Fiorina didn’t take the opportunity to throw Walker under the bus, although she could have on the “exceptions” issue. Fiorina understands that this isn’t a winning proposition for any candidate, even when a top-tier candidate has a potential vulnerability. Taking the shot would only make her the target eventually. Republicans need to fight back against the media memes on abortion, and more importantly point out that the extremist in regard to the national viewpoint on late-term abortion especially is Hillary Clinton, not any of the Republicans in the race.
Rick Perry did a nice job of narrative-flipping last week when Mark Halperin tried to brace him on Planned Parenthood, too. The media will be trying to paint Republicans as extreme on abortion, but as Guy and MK point out repeatedly in their book, there is a massive consensus against late-term abortion in the US, and the abortion-on-demand constituency is the real extreme position, confined largely to Democratic officeholders and aspirants. Fiorina and Perry put on a clinic on how to deal with this question, one that other Republicans at all levels should take the time to study well.
Update, 7/24: I left out some context that preceded this exchange, which is that Tapper was discussing this in light of Hillary Clinton’s attack on Walker over the lack of exceptions in the bill. I’ve rephrased it above and removed a “red herring” reference.