Republican Party Will Likely Face Abortion Debate in 2008

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 15, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Republican Party Will Likely Face Abortion Debate in 2008 Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 15, 2005

Washington, DC ( — When a pro-life candidate ran for the chairmanship of the national Democratic Party, he opened up a national debate over abortion and eventually found himself booed off the stage by stalwart abortion advocates. In 2008, Republicans may find themselves immersed in their own abortion debate.

Some of the leading names touted as possible presidential candidates in 2008 — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar — are not pro-life.

Though she said she would not be a presidential candidate, Rice’s establishing her pro-abortion position in weekend interviews only added to the debate.

Since the Republican Party moved away from being controlled by the more liberal faction of the party that produced Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon, it has yet to nominate a pro-abortion Republican for president since Ronald Reagan was tapped in 1980.

Some Republican strategists suggest that trend is likely to continue despite the media’s focus on potential candidates like Guiliani and Rice.

"I don’t think there is anything happening in the party per se on this issue. We are a pro-life party and will remain so," Republican campaign strategist Bill Dal Col, who managed Steve Forbes’ 2000 presidential campaign, told the Washington Times.

"At the end of the day, only the pro-life social conservative will be the nominee in 2008," Dal Col added.

Still, pro-life advocates will work overtime to make sure the eventual nominee is pro-life.

"It’s certainly being discussed, and I think there is concern within the pro-life activist community that there may be a candidate who’s not acceptable to them who could emerge as a victor," Republican consultant Cheri Jacobus told the Times.

There is a long list of possible pro-life Republican presidential candidates including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist; pro-life Senators Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska; and former Virginia Governor George Allen.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush has been mentioned, but he indicates he won’t run.

Polls show the pro-life position has been of value to Republican presidential candidates, who have always faced Democrats who favor abortion.

A Gallup poll conducted just before the November elections found that 19% of likely voters say the abortion issue directs which candidates they are willing to support. Those votes broke so heavily for President Bush that Gallup said it gave the president a 7 percent advantage among all voters.

Lydia Saad, Senior Gallup Poll Editor, said "Given the current state of abortion attitudes, Bush, in particular, has good reason to hold firm to his pro-life position and to communicate his views to the pro-life voters who stand ready to give him a second term."

That wasn’t the first time Gallup found the pro-life view helping a presidential candidate.

"Gallup found a similar pattern in 2000, and the national exit polling in every presidential election since 1984 has shown a net advantage to the pro-life side over the pro-choice side, based on the percentage of single-issue abortion voters in the electorate," Saad said.