It's official: Rand Paul has successfully turned abortion into a GOP issue

Few politicians had a better week than did Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) when he announced his intention to run for the presidency. Perhaps Paul’s greatest roll-out week accomplishment was to force reporters and the press to take a critical look at the polling data regarding abortion politics.

Paul was asked a typical “gotcha” question regarding restrictions on abortion procedures, and whether the GOP favors exceptions to late-term abortion bans in extreme cases. Paul deftly turned the tables on his interlocutors when he asked reporters to challenge Democrats, and specifically Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), if her party favors no restrictions at all and would support the murder of a seven-pound baby in utero. Surprisingly, some reporters did precisely as Paul suggested.

“I support letting women and their doctors make this decision without government getting involved. Period. End of story,” Wasserman Schultz replied in a tersely worded statement. By suggesting that her party favors no restrictions on abortions whatsoever, Wasserman Schultz found herself on the wrong end of public opinion. According to a CNN/ORC poll from March, 58 percent believe abortion should be legal under “few” or even “no” circumstances. Only 27 percent of respondents told pollsters they believe abortion should be legal in “all” cases without exception.

Wasserman Schultz is engaged in an effort to mitigate some of the damage her comments did. In an appearance on CNN with Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday, the DNC chairwoman sought to regain the high ground on the issue of abortion.

“I am still waiting for Rand Paul to say whether he supports exceptions when a woman is raped,” Wasserman Schultz told CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. “Are we going to let a woman die? Would Rand Paul let a woman die because she’s carrying a baby?”

It’s safe to say that Dr. Paul does not support homicide, negligent or otherwise, particularly since he is arguing that public policy should not facilitate murder because some might see it as a convenient solution to a vexing personal problem.

In fact, Paul answered this precise question in 2013, and it was even Wolf Blitzer who posed the query. “What I would say is that there are thousands of exceptions. I’m a physician and every individual case is going to be different,” Paul said at the time. “Everything is going to be particular to that individual case and what is going on that mother and the medical circumstances of that mother.”

I would say that, after birth, we’ve decided that when life begins, we have decided that we don’t have exceptions for one-day-olds or a six-month-olds. We don’t ask where they came from or how they came into being.

But it is more complicated, because the rest of it depends on the definition of when life comes in. So I don’t think it’s as simple as checking a box and saying, “Exceptions” or “No exceptions.”

But Wasserman Schultz’s feigned confidence on the issue of abortion politics was betrayed when she channeled Mitt Romney just a few seconds later. “At the end of the day, it’s unlikely that voters are going to be deciding who they’re going to vote for for president and whether a candidate has their back on this issue,” the DNC chairwoman said of abortion. “It’s more going to be on jobs and the economy.”

You know we are witnessing a tectonic shift in American politics regarding right to life issues when the progenitor of 2012’s War on Women and a self-described champion of “reproductive justice” sounds more like a Republican than Republicans. Wasserman Schultz would rather take the issue of abortion off the table entirely than be faced with the prospect of alienating her party’s rabidly pro-abortion base.

As an aside, how were the Democrats unable to oust Wasserman Schultz from her position as DNC chairwoman? She presided over the party’s near unprecedented decimation and routinely gives reporters unsatisfying answers to questions that should be layups for a professional communicator, yet the party that occupies the White House couldn’t dislodge her from this highly visible position? That’s bizarre.