Where Things Stand: Scott’s Vague Response To Abortion Questions Is Illustrative Of The Party Struggle

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WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 15: U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) arrives for a Senate briefing on China at the U.S Capitol on February 15, 2023 in Washington, DC. Members of the Biden administration, including representative... WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 15: U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) arrives for a Senate briefing on China at the U.S Capitol on February 15, 2023 in Washington, DC. Members of the Biden administration, including representatives from the Defense Department, briefed Senators on China and the recent suspected spy balloon that was shot down. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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The Republican Party still has no idea how to position itself nationally on abortion after its Dobbs success. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that, electorally, it will continue to be a winning issue in driving independent voters toward Democrats.

As Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) does a soft launch of a potential 2024 campaign, traveling from Iowa to New Hampshire, he has faced questions from reporters asking about the specifics of his stance on federal abortion policy. He has repeatedly deflected.

In Iowa on Wednesday, Scott wouldn’t answer questions about whether he supports his fellow South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham’s proposed 15-week national ban. Just hours later on Thursday morning, Scott told a local New Hampshire news station that he “definitely” would support a 20-week ban and sign it into law if he were president. For his part, he has said before that he endorses such a measure.

“We have to have a federal limit on how far we can go, and that is something that we have to discuss,” Scott said, again, dodging on details.

The degree to which Tim Scott did not want to get into specifics on abortion as he prepares to have to court evangelical voters if he decides to run in 2024 became even clearer on Thursday afternoon when he epically dodged a question about whether he supports a federal abortion ban by talking about a recent banking hearing and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. He accused Democrats of being hypocrites and said he disagreed with something Yellen said during the hearing about how abortion access could help grow the Black workforce.

“I think we’re just having the wrong conversation. I ran down to the banking hearing to see if I heard her right,” he said. “Are you actually saying that a mom like mine should have an abortion so that we increase the labor force participation rate? That just seems ridiculous to me. And so I’m going to continue to have a serious conversation about the issues that affect the American people. I want to start by pointing out the absolute hypocrisy of the left on one of the more important issues.”

The full response is wild:

This is all part of a broader struggle that Republicans face heading into 2024 as they try to decide on abortion messaging that will appeal to a national audience. Not only has polling remained solid in showing the majority of Americans think abortion should be legal, Democrats have managed to succeed electorally repeatedly in recent months by putting the issue of abortion access front and center, from Democrats’ Senate upset to winning control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court last week.

As my colleague Josh Marshall unpacks eloquently here, abortion access is now acting as an “electoral riptide” and Republicans’ desperate inability to plant their flag in a less extreme place is increasingly showing.

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