This is the wrong response. Too many Republican candidates won’t defend their stance on abortion and provide counter examples of pro-choice extremism. Afraid of what the party’s pro-life ultras might say, Republicans opt for reticence and mixed messaging on abortion rather than offering measures that command public support.
“Imagine thinking that what it will take to win the people’s support after this historic [Supreme Court] victory on the human right to life is to ignore it all together and put all your chips on economic issues,” wrote veteran conservative activist Gary Bauer on August 3. “Go on the campaign trail and talk about carried interest, semiconductor shortages, and misuse of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Follow the lead of presidential nominees Dole, McCain, and Romney, who rode social issue silence all the way to second-place finishes in national elections.”
Here, then, is the Republican dilemma: The party’s Senate candidates are weak, it has no economic message beyond lamenting inflation, and its fear of the social issues leaves it exposed. “Without an answer to the left’s attack, Republicans in extremely winnable races will lose—and badly,” warned social conservative leader Frank Cannon, who urged Republicans to get behind laws banning abortions after the fetus has a heartbeat and after it is capable of feeling pain. “Now we are in the democratic era of the abortion debate,” Cannon went on. “Republican members of Congress can no longer act like the decision is out of their hands.”
Nor can Republicans act like the outcome of the 2022 election is predetermined. They may have thought that the Democratic majority would collapse under its own weight. They learned this week that it won’t.