McDonnell’s getting squeamish about abortion.

Bob McDonnell is getting awfully squeamish about Sen. Creigh Deeds bringing up the topic of abortion, and rightly so. As The Washington Post points out in an editorial today, McDonnell has dedicated much of his career to restricting access to abortion, contraceptives, and even information about contraceptives. McDonnell has fled to the center of the political spectrum over the past eighteen months, desperate to shed his long-fought-for image as a leader in the fight for socially conservative values, now that the country has swung eagerly to the left after eight awful years under President George Bush.

If Creigh Deeds “is engaging in the politics of division” by talking about abortion, as McDonnell says, then what in the world does McDonnell say that he was doing with, say, the whole of his political career until about January of 2008?

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

6 replies on “McDonnell’s getting squeamish about abortion.”

  1. I’m not entirely sure this is the right course for Deeds. At least it comes with some risk. Frankly, I wish the issue would go away. I assume that Deeds polling indicates that McDonnell is vulnerable on the issue, but it also stirs up the activist anti-abortion crowd that is only too happy to bring their issue front and center. Anyway like a lot of pols seeking the center, his past is no guarantee that he will seek further restrictions on abortion. But it is fair to bring it up.

  2. You’re right to say that it’s not clear that it’s a good political tactic. I certainly don’t know that it is (or that it’s not). I just think it’s telling that McDonnell has so completely changed his tack on this topic.

  3. The McDonnell voter isn’t so nuanced my progressive friends. They believe that their candidate “shares my values”, is “conservative” and “anti-tax”…everything else is useless to them. They are “holding the line”. Pat Robertson is his bona fides. They will not be swayed to Deeds.

    Deeds has to highlight McDonnell’s abortion record otherwise our pointy-headed brethren might convince themselves that he is McDonnell-Lite.

  4. Ah nuance. I still recall the cartoon of an anguished Kerry with a wall of 35 paint cans of light gray, medium gray, slightly gray, very gray, etc. And a smiling Bush carrying his can of white and can of black.

  5. I’d agree with Bubby that the abortion issue is only good for internal Democratic consumption. It’s to energize the base. It doesn’t really play with independents. As long as we’re talking about McDonnell’s record on abortion, Deeds isn’t giving anybody an affirmative reason to vote FOR him, which is what his campaign needs most right now.

  6. I suppose it energizes a certain segment of the Dem base, although, not nearly as much as it does with the Repub. base. Of course it is hard to find someone who actually would say “I’m torn between the two candidates but McDonnell’s past on the issue scares me so I’ll vote for Deeds”.

    Maybe another tact is to show that McDonnell has been more motivated by social issues such as abortion and that he’s put less emphasis on bedrock Republican economic issues. I think there are a lot of people who are bothered by that. What’s his record on sponsored bills?

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