WASHINGTON, D.C., November 26, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Former presidential nominee John McCain is urging Republicans to confine their support for the unborn to rhetoric but abandon thoughts of enacting new legislation.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday over the weekend, the Arizona senator said the GOP needs “a bigger tent” to be successful in presidential elections, and part of that means dropping social issues important to conservatives.
Echoing the talking point that men should not weigh in on a female issue McCain said, “I don’t think anybody like me —” then pointed to himself before changing gears abruptly. “I can state my position on abortion, but other than that, leave the issue alone, when we are in the kind of economic situation and, frankly, national security situation we’re in.”
When moderator Chris Wallace asked if that meant he had become pro-choice he replied, “I’m proud of my pro-life position and record but if someone disagrees with me, I respect your views.”
His daughter, Meghan, gave the same advice in a recent column for The Daily Beast. “I am a single woman in my 20s and that fact alone gave me the perspective that I don’t want to regulate a woman’s right to choice,” she wrote. While calling herself “pro-life,” she concluded “life is complicated,” so abortion should be “between a woman and her idea of a higher power.”
McCain has a long history of alienating his party’s traditional base. While seeking the presidential nomination in 2000, McCain branded Christian conservatives Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell “agents of intolerance,” likening them to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton.
In 2008, he tried unsuccessfully to change the party’s pro-life plank to add explicit exceptions for rape and incest.
In urging the party faithful to abandon social issues, the McCains join prominent Republican Party consultants in what is becoming a civil war within the GOP.
Leading figures in the party’s leadership hope the party will change its long-held stance on the increasingly conjoined issues of the right to life, defending marriage, and immigration enforcement – another issue McCain raised on Fox News.
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Former McCain consultant Steve Schmidt said on Meet the Press, “This country is rejecting the social extremism of the Republican Party on issue after issue.”
“Frankly, [abortion] is what hurts Republicans,” said Susan Del Percio, a New York-based GOP strategist, on MSNBC on Thanksgiving day. “It is very important for us to move beyond this.”
She found Personhood legislation particularly “disturbing.”
The media-generated perception that pro-life advocates are extreme has spurred the National Republican Senatorial Committee to enter more heavily into the Republican primaries in 2014. Senator Jim DeMint, a staunch conservative, has slammed the NRSC, which often favors more liberal candidates than the party’s grassroots and abandons social conservatives who win the nomination.
Yet evangelical Christians made up 48 percent of Mitt Romney’s votes in November, not counting white Catholics, who voted for Romney by double digits.
“Republicans should resist the catcalls urging them to give the cold shoulder to evangelicals and other voters of faith who make up the overwhelming majority of their voters,” GOP strategist Ralph Reed said. “Even in an election about the economy, social issues won’t go away, and denial isn’t a strategy.”
“If the GOP is serious about reaching out to minorities, social issues are rich soil for finding common ground,” he added.
The blog Weasel Zippers responded to Senator McCain’s interview more curtly. “Once a RINO, always a RINO,” it stated.