The Broader Agenda Wins Big

Cristina Page

Poll after poll shows 9 in ten voters support birth control. If a candidate, or measure, can be "outed" as extreme on such a popular practice, it resonates with voters.

Over the past two years of election coverage, the media has done
occasional pieces about abortion politics. A good example was the
pre-election piece run by the New York Times.
The themes were Catholic voters and the saliency of the issue (in
particular, candidates being threatened by bishops who would withhold
communion) and a possible southern strategy by Democrats to pick-up
seats by running so-called "pro-life" candidates. But yesterday’s
election showed that if political analysts would look for a moment
through something other than the narrow lens of abortion they’d find a
broader set of crucial reproductive rights issues that influenced
important races.

This year a number of candidates that ran for
the Senate, the House and as Governor engaged in a wide reproductive
health debate that went way beyond abortion to include birth control,
emergency contraceptive, pharmacist refusals to fill birth control pill
prescriptions and sex education. It turns out it was a great strategy
for pro-choice candidates. In the tightest of races, last night’s
results showed the broader agenda was a winning one.

In New
Hampshire, pro-choice Democrat Jeanne Shaheen used anti-choice opponent
John Sununu’s anti-contraception record to portray him as an extremist.
She unseated him (52/45) and we now have a new pro-choice voice in the
US Senate.

In Colorado, Protect Families Protect Choices, the
campaign to defeat Amendment 48, educated Coloradans about threats the
Amendment posed to the most common and effective birth control methods
as well as stem cell research and IVF treatment. Amendment 48, which
just a month ago seemed a toss up, was handily defeated by 73 to 27.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

In
the United States, poll after poll shows 9 in ten voters support birth
control. If a candidate, or measure, can be "outed" as extreme on such
a popular practice, it resonates with voters. These are important life
decisions that have resonance in voters’ lives. Compare the number of
times a woman uses birth control to prevent pregnancy to how often she
terminates an early pregnancy. One in three women will have an abortion
in her lifetime. Yet, virtually all women (98%) aged 15–44 who have
ever had intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method. Birth
control is universally used and supported. And so candidates that can
expose their opponents’ positions against contraception can win over
voters in a big way.

Take, for example, the Connolly-Fimian
House race in Virginia’s 11th. In the final days of the campaign,
pro-choice Democrat Gerry Connolly was able to focus attention on
anti-choice Republican Keith Fimian’s ties to a extremist
anti-contraception operative. Connolly revealed that Fimian is a board
member of an organization that seeks to have business leaders impose
religious doctrine in the workplace. Connolly also exposed Fimian’s
decision as a CEO to deny his employees contraceptive coverage. In that
tight race, Connolly was able to pull out a victory. In Washington
State, what was long viewed as a tight gubernatorial race became a
runaway contest. Incumbent pro-choice Democrat Governor Christine
Gregoire used access to birth control as an issue and ran ads revealing
that her opponent, anti-choice Republican Dino Rossi, supports giving
pharmacists the right to deny women their prescriptions for birth
control. Gregoire won 54 to 46. (Several other races where
contraception played a important role are still too close to call.)

In
the Presidential race, the reproductive health issues that clicked with
voters were those that Americans could see affecting their own lives.
The failure of abstinence-only was exemplified by Bristol Palin and her
unintended pregnancy. It isn’t what Americans want for their daughters.
McCain’s attempts to portray Obama as an extremist on sex education
fell flat. Americans understood that age-appropriate sex education
protects our children. People understood that what Obama supports is
teaching children from an early age that they have the right to protect
themselves, whether from a sexual predator or, when age-appropriate,
from STDs and pregnancy. Palin’s support of a policy to charge rape
victims for pregnancy prevention was something Americans could imagine
happening to themselves or a loved one. McCain’s inability to answer
whether he supported contraceptive coverage became a big issue,
mystified most Americans, an revealed how out-of-step he was from the
day to day lives Americans live.

The electorate believes deeply
in protection, prevention, and common sense solutions. That’s the
pro-choice platform that the media failed to recognize this year. But
as this election year demonstrated it’s this broader array of issues
where pro-choice politicians and gained traction with voters. The 2008
election is the time we finally broadened the discussion to be about
our right to make important life decisions for ourselves. It was the
year that pro-choice became pro-choices.

This article was first posted at Birth Control Watch.

News Politics

Clinton Campaign Announces Tim Kaine as Pick for Vice President

Ally Boguhn

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

The Clinton campaign announced Friday that Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) has been selected to join Hillary Clinton’s ticket as her vice presidential candidate.

“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” said Clinton in a tweet.

“.@TimKaine is a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it,” she added.

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

Kaine signed two letters this week calling for the regulations on banks to be eased, according to a Wednesday report published by the Huffington Post, thereby ”setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, told the New York Times that Kaine’s selection “could be disastrous for our efforts to defeat Donald Trump in the fall” given the senator’s apparent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Just before Clinton’s campaign made the official announcement that Kaine had been selected, the senator praised the TPP during an interview with the Intercept, though he signaled he had ultimately not decided how he would vote on the matter.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Kaine’s record on reproductive rights has also generated controversy as news began to circulate that he was being considered to join Clinton’s ticket. Though Kaine recently argued in favor of providing Planned Parenthood with access to funding to fight the Zika virus and signed on as a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act—which would prohibit states and the federal government from enacting restrictions on abortion that aren’t applied to comparable medical services—he has also been vocal about his personal opposition to abortion.

In a June interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Kaine told host Chuck Todd he was “personally” opposed to abortion. He went on, however, to affirm that he still believed “not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions.”

As Rewire has previously reported, though Kaine may have a 100 percent rating for his time in the Senate from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the campaign website for his 2005 run for governor of Virginia promised he would “work in good faith to reduce abortions” by enforcing Virginia’s “restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother.”

As governor, Kaine did support some existing restrictions on abortion, including Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law. He also signed a 2009 measure that created “Choose Life” license plates in the state, and gave a percentage of the proceeds to a crisis pregnancy network.

Regardless of Clinton’s vice president pick, the “center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted in a bold, populist, progressive direction,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in an emailed statement. “It’s now more important than ever that Hillary Clinton run an aggressive campaign on core economic ideas like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, Wall Street reform, and yes, stopping the TPP. It’s the best way to unite the Democratic Party, and stop Republicans from winning over swing voters on bread-and-butter issues.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article included a typo that misidentified Sen. Tim Kaine as a Republican. We regret this error.

News Politics

Former Klan Leader on Senate Run: My Views Are Now the ‘GOP Mainstream’

Teddy Wilson

David Duke has been a fervent support of the Trump campaign, and has posted dozens of messages in support of Trump on Twitter. Duke has often used the hashtag #TrumpWasRight.

David Duke, convicted felon, white supremacist, and former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, announced Friday that he will run for U.S. Senate in Louisiana, Roll Call reported.

Duke said that after a “great outpouring of overwhelming support,” he will campaign for the open Senate seat vacated by former Republican Sen. David Vitter, who lost a bid for Louisiana governor in a runoff election.

Duke’s announcement comes the day after Donald Trump accepted the GOP nomination in the midst of growing tensions over race relations across the country. Trump has been criticized during the campaign for his rhetoric, which, his critics say, mainstreams white nationalism and provokes anxiety and fear among students of color.

His statements about crime and immigration, particularly about immigrants from Mexico and predominantly Muslim countries, have been interpreted by outlets such as the New York Times as speaking to some white supporters’ “deeper and more elaborate bigotry.”

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Duke said in his campaign announcement that he was the first candidate to promote the policy of “America first,” echoing a line from Trump’s nomination acceptance speech on Thursday night.

“The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents, is that our plan will put America First,” Trump said Thursday night. “As long as we are led by politicians who will not put America First, then we can be assured that other nations will not treat America with respect.”

Duke said his platform has become “the GOP mainstream” and claimed credit for propelling Republicans to control of Congress in 2010. He said he is “overjoyed to see Donald Trump … embrace most of the issues I’ve championed for years.”

Trump in February declined to disavow the support of a white supremacist group and Duke, saying he knew “nothing about David Duke” and knew “nothing about white supremacists.” He later clarified that he rejected their support, and blamed his initial failure to disavow Duke on a “bad earpiece.”

Trump’s candidacy has also brought to light brought many incidents of anti-Semitism, much of which has been directed at journalists and commentators covering the presidential campaign.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro wrote in the National Review that Trump’s nomination has “drawn anti-Semites from the woodwork,” and that the Republican nominee has been willing to “channel the support of anti-Semites to his own ends.”

Duke took to Twitter after Trump’s acceptance speech Thursday to express his support for the Republican nominee’s vision for America.

“Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders!, Fair Trade! Couldn’t have said it better!” Duke tweeted.

Duke has been a fervent Trump supporter, and has posted dozens of messages in support of Trump on Twitter. Duke has often used the hashtag #TrumpWasRight.

Duke was elected to the Louisiana house in 1989, serving one term. Duke was the Republican nominee for governor in 1991, and was defeated by Democrat Edwin Edwards.

Duke, who plead guilty in 2002 to mail fraud and tax fraud, has served a year in federal prison.