A few years ago, shortly before Election Day 2014, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) realized he was struggling with women voters and he worried about whether the gender gap would derail his campaign. Walker responded with a TV ad in which, in the context of the abortion debate, the governor defended leaving these decisions “to a woman and her doctor.”
Substantively, the rhetoric was ridiculous – it reflected the exact opposite of Walker’s policy agenda – but the Republican candidate saw value in trying to use his rivals’ phrasing to make his own far-right policies sound more mainstream.
BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reported the other day on a similar tactic adopted by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
“Again, terrible tragedy what happened in Oregon, but you’re right, every single year unborn in this country are killed legally, through laws that allow that to happen,” Rubio said when radio host Glenn Beck asked him to respond to Hillary Clinton’s comments on the Oregon shooting, which Beck used to pivot to the issue of abortion.“Look, I recognize this is tough issue and I actually do believe that a woman has a right to choose with her body,” he added. “The problem is that when there’s a pregnancy, there’s another life involved and that life has a right to live. And so, as policymakers we have to choose between two competing rights, and I’ve chosen as a matter of principle to choose life in that debate.”
First, it’s a lingering mystery why we still see competitive candidates for the nation’s highest office associating themselves with Glenn Beck, chatting about who they see as radical, without appreciating the irony.
Second, it’s jarring for Rubio, who’s been a consistent far-right voice on issues such as abortion and contraception access, boast that he “actually” does “believe that a woman has a right to choose with her body” – though he’s comfortable pursuing an agenda to curtail and restrict that right.
The Florida senator added that Hillary Clinton “has extreme positions” when it comes to reproductive rights.
Rubio has argued more than once in recent months that if a woman is impregnated by a rapist, the government has the authority to force her to take the pregnancy to term, regardless of her wishes.
How eager is he, exactly, for a debate about whose positions are “extreme”?