Pro-Choice Republicans Take Close Look at McCain-Palin Ticket

The Republican Party was once a long and proud tradition
of pro-choice heavyweights, including former Minnesota Gov. Arnie Carlson,
former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, Sen. Arlen Specter, and former
Connecticut Congresswoman Nancy Johnson. Many of these pro-choice Republicans have retired or lost re-election campaigns, which deeply concerns Republican Majority for Choice, a group
that works to elect pro-choice Republicans and to take the anti-choice planks out of the Republican party platform.


RMC’s priority for this election
was to get a pro-choice candidate on the Republican presidential ticket. "We came close,"
said RMC co-chair Jennifer Blei Stockman, noting that John McCain’s campaign
seriously considered both Sen. Joe Lieberman and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom
Ridge for VP, both of whom have
long supported abortion rights. Instead, the party picked Palin, a
member of Feminists for Life

"Obviously we’re thrilled it’s a woman, having a woman run
for office is a true barrier breaker,"
Stockman said. "But we know she’s
pro-life. We just don’t know if she would like to overturn Roe. She does not have a statement about that yet."
But last week in Palin’s interview with Charlie Gibson on ABC,
Palin’s first television interview since she was named vice
presidential nominee, the candidate said she does believe Roe v. Wade should be overturned and that laws regarding abortion should be made by the states.

Statement or no statement, chances are good that Palin would want to appoint
justices likely to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Feminists for Life was founded in the wake of the Roe v. Wade decision. The Republican National Coalition for Life,
where Palin was scheduled to appear, says in their mission statement, "We will
work to hold Republican lawmakers accountable to the pro-life principles in our
platform. It is our desire to see those principles translated into public
policy and law." And Palin told the Eagle Forum when running for governor in 2006, she is "pro-life," and believes that abortion should be outlawed in all cases, including rape and incest, except when pregnancy poses a threat to a woman’s life.

In the end, the battle becomes about justices on the Supreme
Court. Though McCain has made his judicial philosophy clear — and essentially guaranteed the nomination of a "strict constructionist" justice or justices in the mold of Robert and Alito — Stockman sees the Democratic Congress as a buffer to the most egregious of his possible choices: "Believe it or not, I’m not as concerned because Democrats will control
the Senate and McCain can’t propose [a judicial nominee] who’s on the record as being
anti-choice," Stockman said.

Despite RMC’s optimism that McCain will prioritize other
issues over women’s health and rights, his track record aligns overwhelmingly
with a pro-life agenda. As Sarah Blustain reported
in The New Republic earlier this
summer, McCain has voted against women’s health and rights issues — ranging from
birth control access to abortion — 125 out of 130 times. Even if he doesn’t prioritize curtailing women’s access to reproductive health services, his lack of
engagement on this issue is remarkable. As a Planned Parenthood Action Fund campaign ad highlights,
when McCain was asked what he thought about the fact that many insurance
companies cover Viagra but not birth control, his lengthy pause gives cause for

Many moderate Republicans like those from RMC long for a
return to a Barry Goldwater style of conservatism, in which the government stays
out of personal issues of all kinds, from abortion to phone records. A recent poll
(PDF) conducted by the Republican Majority for Choice discovered that more than
75 percent of Republicans believe the choice to have an abortion should be up
to the woman, not the government. The poll also found that 66 percent
Republicans that described themselves as pro-choice thought the woman, not the
government, should make a decision about an abortion.

Pro-choice candidates aren’t just confined to the
highest-profile race this election season. "We felt very defeated — all Republicans
felt defeated after ’06 but we lost [pro-choice Republicans like] Nancy
Johnson," Stockman said. "We’ve lost a lot of our friends, our allies."
Numerous congressional races, like that of retiring Minnesota Congressman Jim
Ramstad are in play. State legislator Erik Paulsen is running on the Republican
ticket for Ramstad’s seat. Paulsen is largely running as a fiscal conservative,
but Paulsen’s record gets a 90 percent rating
from the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.

Stockman also emphasized the need for younger Republicans,
like Kate Whitman, daughter of Christine Todd Whitman, to run for office. These
young people might be more likely to keep legislation away from personal choice issues.  "There are so many young people who are turned off by the Republican Party,"
Stockman said. She hopes to recruit young pro-choice people to run in
Republican primaries.

The Republican Party has always had to reconcile the
traditional party model of a big tent with its militantly pro-life members.
But now Republicans in the middle of the political spectrum are getting defeated in
primary races or retiring from office. Those lining up to replace them are
fervently pro-life, ready to take up the culture wars. The majority of
Republicans want the government to stay out of a personal decision like
abortion, so pro-life candidates represent a very small subset of the party.
Unless the Republican Party supports more pro-choice candidates, they may end
up with a very small tent.

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  • invalid-0

    Ashwin Madia is the Marine Corps. and Iraq War veteran running for the open Third District Congressional race in Minnesota to replace Congressman Jim Ramstad. He is running against Republican Erik Paulsen, who you mention in your article concerning Pro-Choice Republicans.

    It is clear that Erik Paulsen will NOT follow in the footsteps of Congressman Ramstad. Here’s why…

    The people of the Third Congressional District have supported Congressman Ramstad because of his moderate positions on social issues. With Erik Paulsen, they would o veer to the far-right.

    Erik Paulsen’s track record:

    Accepted $107,000 from Corporate PACs, after previously proposing to ban PAC contributions.

    Supports “Drill Here, Drill Now” as part of his energy policy.

    Voted NO to Minnesota’s participation in a regional greenhouse gas reduction program.
    [1] The Midwest regional cap and trade program, House Journal p. 10554, 4/23/08

    Voted NO to requiring that 20 percent of Minnesota’s energy be produced from renewable sources by 2020.
    [2] House Journal p. 4202, 5/19/05

    Voted NO to requiring that renewable energy make up a minimum share of the electricity sold by utilities.
    [3] House Journal p. 4555, 5/14/01

    Opposed equal rights for same sex partners

    Opposed increasing the minimum wage

    Supports making women who have abortions criminals

    Voted for the largest cut in MN education funding EVER

    Supports protecting tax cuts for the top 2% of income earners.


    Seriously, which of these Erik Paulsen policies benefits middle class families? Even one?

    Check the record. Check the facts.

    Ashwin Madia has the courage to change.

  • invalid-0

    I mean, she gave her daughter the choice, right?

    Why didn’t she just say:

    “I don’t care what you want.”

    That’s sort of the line she takes on everyone else.

  • invalid-0

    I agree with danbrome….Madia is the only choice in our district. He has struck a chord with thousands of moderate Republicans and Independents, who don’t want ultra conservative’s (Paulsen) running our country. Madia is a fiscal conservative (balance the budget is a number one priority) who has served his country (four years in the Marine Corp. including 6 months in Baghdad) and his social moderate position leaves no one out. He is truly a candidate that will represent ALL of us! To find out more about his incredible campaign go to….I guarantee you will be impressed.

  • amanda-marcotte

    By the time he got to be President, he had capitulated his commitment to making abortion and contraception more widely available.  However, the Bush family used to be supporters of Planned Parenthood—Prescott Bush was the treasurer of Planned Parenthood in the 40s.  George Bush was a huge family planning advocate in Congress, until it was made clear to him that his political career would be stymied if he didn’t embrace the religious right. 


    It’s interesting to wonder if W. has this gap between private acceptance of abortion and contraception and his complete sell-out to the religious right.  The woman whose abortion he supposedly paid for will neither confirm nor deny the story.  It’s worth noting that the architect of Bush’s political strategy of pandering to Christian conservatives—Karl Rove—is himself an atheist.  


    Not that what’s in their hearts matters, except that it’s funny to think of how the wingnuts have been hoodwinked.  What matters is they were voted in to chip away at women’s rights, and that’s what they did.

  • invalid-0

    Unfortunately, Madia is not an option for us Moderate Republicans. He doesn’t have any record to look to determine how he will vote. He has also been all over the place on the positions he has taken. He said he wouldn’t take “Corporate” PAC money. Then we find out he took over $300,000 in PAC money from the liberal special interesting, including at least one contribution from a PAC with Corporation in it’s name. I also see that he is now some big gay rights activist, when he was known for his anti-gay rights stand as pressident of the Minnesota Student Government. He also changed his story on who he voted for in 2000. He seems to change his position depending on who he is talking to.

    For me as a Moderate Republican, Madia is out of the question. I will either have to vote for Mr. Paulsen, or David Dillion. I am leaning towards Paulsen because Ramstad seems to really like him. I love Ramstad so his endorsement means a lot to me. After all Paulsen cannot be too extreme on the Choice issue, or he would not have agreed to be on Ramstad’s staff.

  • invalid-0

    That part about “I don’t care what you want” being the line that Palin takes on everyone else is VERY true. However the title of your post is an oxy-moron. Palin is NOT pro choice – atleast with abortion & that is what we are talking about. It’s just best to not mislead people. I don’t know if you were trying to joke around or not, but this is a very important issue and people need to take it seriously.

    My opinion is that if I were a pregnant teen back in my day, I wouldn’t want my Mom to reach for a high publicized position while I was pregnant & trying to graduate high school. High school can be brutal in terms of people judging you. My heart goes out to Palin’s daughter & wish that she didn’t have to endure the scrutiny that has become our headlines.

    Personally, I just wouldn’t want my Mom to do that whether it be the next biggest Hollywood actress or VP. I simply would want privacy. That’s just me though. High school is tough enough with studying, the hormones, the gossip and the pressure from your parents to be a certain way.

    I know I would never put any of my children under America’s microscope like Palin is doing to her daugther – even if she “says” she is okay with it. The child’s best interest comes first & I thought that by being pro-life, that she would be more concerned with the fetus or child’s well-being.

    I wouldn’t ever encourage or even suggest abortion to anybody, even a teenager. It is their choice and that is the way it should be. I personally couldn’t imagine ever getting an abortion and I think it is wrong, but who am I to judge somebody’s ability to have a child or not? If I were raped (especially by a family member), then I would have to say I may consider it, however that is not my situation.

    Unwanted child get left behind both physically & emotionally. I know from personal experience because my mother was raped but still gave birth and gave the child up for adoption. That child has since made contact with my family and I still consider her as my sister. I have to live with both my mom & my sister’s pain from the unfortuntate situation. My sister is so emotionally fragile from knowing that she is the product of a rape and in fact, she refuses to believe it. She told me that she wish she were never born, which is extremely because she is one of the most pro-life Christians I know. She is has black and was raised in a small, prodominately white town that was not accepting of her color. She had to grow up not knowing my mother for over 30 years. That has scarred her. My mom was living in a shack in the Philippines at the time and couldn’t keep her, but she would have if she could. She figures that a good American family would be a better life for her. Although it sounds like her life was better off in the U.S., you can’t judge that. I don’t even have the answer. All I know is she gets suicidal from time to time.

    So basically, this is why I feel the way I do. Whether you think I am wrong or right, it’s simply the way I feel about a women’s rights – especially with her reproductive system.

  • truth

    Go, baby, Go!!!

  • invalid-0

    Ashwin Madia has spoken repeatedly about the need to balance the budget, and restore fiscal discipline to Washington D.C. He has earned a reputation for being a Fiscal Conservative and a Social Moderate, much like retiring Congressman Jim Ramstad. That is why the Madia for Congress Campaign is gaining strength as more and more voters in the Third Congressional District hear his message and join the cause.

    For the record, Republican Erik Paulsen has raised $107,000 to date from corporate special interests. See for yourself at:

    In 2001, Paulsen proposed prohibiting PAC contributions for Minnesota politicians. Discussing the bill in 2001, Paulsen said, “Eliminating PAC contributions will restore integrity to the political process and give citizens the confidence that their voice is more important than special interests groups.” Paulsen added, “We must act to negate the very perception that special interest money controls the way our government is run.” Now, Paulsen’s own campaign committee treasurer, Reid LeBeau, is himself a registered lobbyist. [State Representative Erik Paulsen press release, 3/21/01; Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, Registered Lobbyists, accessed 8/29/08]

    The Paulsen campaign is drowning in corporate PAC money. The hypocrisy meter is clearly in the red.

    Madia did in fact receive a single $500 contribution from a PAC who’s name included the word “corporate”. The contribution was returned in accordance with Ashwin’s commitment to be accountable to the people of the 3rd District, and not beholded to corporate donors.

    Paulsen’s right-wing voting record is legendary here in Minnesota. To suggest he is a moderate is laughable.

    Madia: Says NO to Corporate PAC Money

  • invalid-0

    Madia is such a liar when it comes to PAC contributions. He wanted to pretend he cared about getting special intrests out of politics, so he called the PACs that wouldn’t give him money “Corporate” PACs and then said he wouldn’t take money from them. He blew it though when a pack with “corporate” in his name gave him money. Sure he gave it back, but less then a week after that he lied and said he never took a dime of “coprorate” PAC money. It’s intersting because he took at least $500 in “corporate PAC” money, and over $300,000 in other special interest PAC money. What a brave stand against special interest?!?

  • invalid-0

    I’m sure Madia told you he is Emphatic to Balance the Budget, but he cannot be trusted. He has a history of telling peole what they want to hear. Erik Paulsen on the other hand has proven he is willing and able to make the tough choices to balance a budget. Madia has never voted to balance a budget in his life, we have no way of knowing how he would vote on budget issues.