Roundups Politics

Repro Wrap: New Anti-Choice Candidates Struggle to Discuss Abortion in the Media

Robin Marty

After 2012, anti-choice special interest groups vowed that helping their candidates better prepare for media appearances would be their key to victory in 2014. How's that working out so far? In some cases, not well.

After the 2012 elections, pundits pinned Todd Akin’s loss in Missouri and Richard Mourdock’s in Indiana to their unpopular comments about refusing to allow abortions for rape victims. Anti-choice special interest groups vowed that helping their candidates better prepare for media appearances would be their key to victory in 2014.

How’s that working out so far? In some cases, not well.

Meet Iowa senate candidate David Young. A former aide to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Young is hoping to win in June 2014 against Rep. Bruce Braley for the seat Democrat Tom Harkin will be vacating. As part of his campaign, he’s already wooing grassroots activists in the state and even promised a crowd at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition that if he’s elected he’ll try to convert Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to Christianity.

However, he seems to need some help with how he discusses abortion in the media. According to the Carroll Daily Times Herald, his spokesperson said his “long-standing position” on the issue is that “he believes abortion should only be a legal option in cases where the life of the pregnant mother is in jeopardy.” But during an interview with the newspaper, Young admitted that although he believes abortion should not be legal, he would not force victims of rape or incest to carry a child to term if they did not want to. When asked what he thinks “the penalty should be for a woman who has an abortion or a doctor who performs one,” he said, “I’m not ready to answer that because you’re really going deep, and I have not thought about this, and I should have, before walking into any kind of interview.”

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According to the New Orleans Times Picayune, Republicans are trying to convince Willie Robertson, the star of the A&E reality television series Duck Dynasty, to run for an open house seat during Louisiana’s 2013 special election. Robertson “may make Louisiana’s pro-life voters happy, happy, happy,” writes Ben Johnson at, noting that Robertson has spoken at a Texas crisis pregnancy center fundraiser and that his father has passionately advocated against abortion.

But some GOP operatives warn that recruiting a celebrity could backfire. “Celebrity candidates are very appealing to inside-the-Beltway consultants and reporters, but they usually run lousy campaigns,” one Republican Party adviser told the Washington Examiner.

Then there’s Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli. From bullying the state medical board into writing and approving clinic regulations meant to shut down many abortion providers in the state to advocating that business owners, religious leaders, and activists go to jail rather than allow the birth control mandate to be enforced, the Republican attorney general hasn’t exactly hidden his anti-choice agenda. But with the governor’s mansion in sight, Cuccinelli is doing his best to take a more moderate stance on the issue for the 2013 election. However, PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter declared false Cuccinelli’s debate claim that “Every bill I’ve ever supported has either had language that says we’re conforming to the constitutional rulings of the Supreme Court or language to that effect. I’m not looking to make a challenge in that respect.” According to the site, “Cuccinelli has backed two bills during his career; one had the qualifying clause he described and the other—which Cuccinelli cosponsored—did not.

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