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Pending Shutdown Fight Over Abortion Divides GOP 2016ers

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AP Photo / Jim Cole

Kasich was the latest candidate to weigh in on the issue, which is dividing the Republican field.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Ted Cruz, who is leading the effort to shut down the government and circulating a letter that promises not support any federal spending bill that includes funding for Planned Parenthood. The White House and Democrats have vowed to block any efforts defund Planned Parenthood, which already is prohibited from spending taxpayer money on abortion in most cases.

Carly Fiorina said that "if it came to that," she would shutdown the government.

"If we are not prepared to stand up and fight over this, what are we prepared to stand up and fight over?” she said on CBN News in August. Other 2016ers have been more wobbly on the issue. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Democrats would be the ones blamed for shutting down the government over Planned Parenthood. But, when pressed on voting for a bill that continues funding, he said, "I’m not getting into what we will or won’t do.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said in August that, while supportive of the defund movement, he doesn't "think you start out with your objective to shut down government." At an anti-abortion rally on Thursday, however, he said "If the Democrats want to shut down government over this, then it goes to Democrats," and he promised "we will take a stand."

The frontrunner Donald Trump has also wavered on the issue, having initially come out in support of the non-abortive services Planned Parenthood offers. But he told Fox News last week that as long as affiliates offer abortion, he would be "would be totally opposed to funding."

A few other candidates joined Kasich in throwing cold water on the idea of a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding.

"Senator Graham does not support shutting down the government because that means degrading our first line of defense against terrorists and putting our nation at risk,” Graham's (R-SC) press secretary, told The Huffington Post last month.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) told CNN that "throwing around threats" of a government shutdown "doesn't help."

"We didn't do too well when we shut down the government the last time. I think everybody should take a deep breath," he said.

About The Author

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Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.