It’s been an incredibly shameless pivot to the general election season for the current crop of Republican candidates hoping to secure wins in November. As they face the music on the electability of their extreme views, we’ve seen the candidates — some of whom have not only pushed Big Lie propaganda as policy positions, but have launched their entire political careers on the back of Trumpy election denialism — flail around, walking back or entirely reversing their stances on the 2020 election in recent weeks.
Desperate GOPers such as Blake Masters in Arizona have also attempted to completely re-write their views on abortion, as Roe’s overturning has turned out to be incredibly unpopular among Americans, and an energizing rallying cry for Democrats.
But Tudor Dixon’s recent spin might be among the most flagrant yet.
Dixon, who is against abortion in all cases unless the pregnant person’s life is in danger, has been trying rather desperately in the last week or so to make the Michigan gubernatorial campaign about literally anything but abortion — a fruitless endeavor as her impressively funded rival, incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), has been campaigning on her support of abortion access for Michiganders since before Roe was even overturned this summer.
Whitmer’s been one of the most proactive state-level Democrats on the abortion rights front. She preemptively sued to keep her state’s century old abortion ban from going back on the books in the case of Roe’s overturning, which, of course, ultimately came to fruition. The law is blocked in Michigan for now, and a liberal activist group was able to successfully get a measure on the midterms ballot that, if approved, would make abortion a right protected by the state constitution.
So, appropriately, Whitmer’s focused much of her campaign messaging strategy and TV ad buys on hyping her record on abortion rights in recent weeks — and highlighting Dixon’s extreme anti-abortion views. And in the remaining low-on-cash weeks before the midterms, it seems the Dixon is getting increasingly desperate to appeal to voters in the purple state. The theme of her messaging has shifted away from highlighting various MAGA grievances and culture wars to telling voters to just stop thinking about abortion altogether in the gubernatorial race.
Last week, Dixon told reporters, “you can vote for Gretchen Whitmer’s position without having to vote for Gretchen Whitmer again,” suggesting to voters that they could theoretically support the referendum to enshrine abortion protections in the state constitution, but still … vote for her, the candidate who is against the procedure in nearly all cases.
Her messaging got even weirder this weekend. As the headlining opener for Donald Trump’s appearance at a rally in Michigan Saturday, Dixon suggested on stage that the issue of abortion rights was no longer up for discussion in the state and therefore shouldn’t be a part of the midterms election in a few short weeks (which is, of course, not true).
“Gretchen Whitmer is out there saying that I’m going to be able to do something about that issue in this state,” Dixon said on stage. “As you all know, it’s on the ballot, it’s been decided by a judge, don’t let her bright shiny thing distract from the fact that she has done nothing but hurt this state.”
A few hours later, she doubled down on the bizarre position, almost outright admitting to reporters that Whitmer’s laser-focus on abortion as the campaign issue was actually a successful strategy.
“It shouldn’t be an issue for the gubernatorial race, but she hasn’t come out with a plan, so she’s trying to run against me on that,” she said.
As we head into the final weeks of this midterms season, the squirm-filled distancing will likely only get more cringe. Be sure to restock your popcorn 🍿
The Best Of TPM Today
Here’s what you should read this evening:
In case you missed this new exclusive from Josh Kovensky this morning — shot: Appeals Court Leaves Key Case Hanging For Seven Years
And, hours later, chaser: Appeals Court Takes Seven Years To Rule On Key case
Kate Riga on the first day of the new SCOTUS term: Jackson Tangles With Gorsuch In Her First Oral Argument Appearance
The latest: DOJ Tries To Sidestep MAGA Judge With Quick Appeal, Enraging Trump
New from Kaila Philo: Election Deniers’ Voting Machine Schemes Have Become Part Of The 2022 Midterms
CPAC Scrambles To Clean Up Deleted Tweet Whitewashing Russia’s Ukraine Annexation
Contortionist Rick Scott Avoids Rebuking Trump’s ‘Death Wish’ Attack On McConnell
Yesterday’s Most Read Story
“Perla” Is Recently Retired Army Counterintel Soldier — Josh Marshall
What We Are Reading
FBI officials: No credible threats to US election systems ahead of midterms — Kevin Johnson
University Staff Warned They Could Be Fired for Providing Birth Control — Carter Sherman
Biden to GOP critics of student debt relief: ‘Bring it on’ — Michael Stratford