Feb. 8, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

The Economy Is Crumbling So Let’s Talk Abortion and Rape

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo

The House Majority PAC spots are either touching and brilliant or despicable and desperate. You decide. In any case, they open the door to right-to-life groups countering with equally emotional and manipulative ads that feature children saying how happy they are that they weren’t aborted.

Of course, it isn’t only in House races that Democrats are using abortion and other cultural issues. In Northern Virginia, abortion is featured prominently in TV ads supporting Obama and Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine.

It wasn’t that long ago — four years to be exact — that Democrats were rolling their eyes over conservatives’ use of those same kinds of issues, insisting that with the financial crisis and slowing economy Republicans were wasting their time dwelling on abortion and gay marriage.

As the Los Angeles Times editorialized on Sept. 18, 2008: “A raft of issues will confront the next president: the faltering economy, Iraq, Afghanistan, the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, a resurgent Russia, gaps in health insurance, energy policy and climate change. Especially after this week’s turmoil in the financial markets, it’s bizarre to suggest that this election should turn on abortion, same-sex marriage or the relationship between church and state.”

While Democrats have jumped all over social issues, some Republicans have aided and abetted Democrats in raising the themes and portraying the Republican Party as being extreme.

Republican Senate candidates Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, who looked like easy winners, have proved to be so insensitive and politically inept that they have helped interject rape and social issues into their own campaigns as well as the campaigns of others.

Akin and Mourdock are both pro-life, and that isn’t a liability in Missouri and Indiana. But sounding unsympathetic to victims of rape is another story, and whatever their true feelings, both Republicans sounded incredibly ill-informed and even cruel.

And then there is Coffman, the Colorado Republican whom I have already mentioned as a target of attacks on abortion. Earlier this year, Coffman said that in Obama’s heart, he “is not an American, He’s not an American.”

Abortion is an important issue to many. The same holds for stem cell research and same-sex marriage. They were always going to have some role in the 2012 elections. But with choices on taxes, spending, the budget deficit and entitlements staring the electorate in the face, it’s interesting that so many Democratic ads are focusing on cultural issues and so many Republicans are fumbling around with them.

Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.

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