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Why an anti-abortion group supports Trump without officially endorsing him

Photo: Drew Angerer Getty Images via Agence France-Presse Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the antiabortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, in November 2021

Theodoric Meyer – The Washington Post, Leigh Ann Caldwell – The Washington Post, Alec Dent – The Washington Post

Posted at 10:11 a.m. Analysis

  • United States

When former President Donald Trump announced in April that he believed the decision to ban abortion should be left to the states, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the antiabortion group SBA Pro-Life America, said she was “deeply disappointed » by this decision.

But his disappointment didn't stop his group from exerting considerable effort to help Mr. Trump win against President Biden and help Republicans retake the Senate.

SBA plans to spend at least $92 million to reach 10 million voters in eight states this cycle, Dannenfelser said. Its canvassers have already knocked on more than 1.4 million doors. They will also speak to voters by phone, text, mail and online.

In an interview, the president said she had not tried to change Trump's mind about shifting responsibility for abortion laws to the states, even though she disagreed with him.

“I know him too well for that,” she said. No one is better placed than him to see how this project works in reality, politically, and I think this is the only thing that will make it move. »

His group decided to change strategy instead.

Stop the Democrats from winning

Marjorie Dannenfelser pledged last year that SBA would not publicly support any candidate who refused to support a national limit of 15 weeks of pregnancy for abortion, leading the group to support fewer candidates.

SBA has not officially endorsed Mr. Trump, and has only offered support to two Senate candidates in key states, Bernie Moreno in Ohio and Tim Sheehy in Montana. (He has supported three Senate candidates in total this year, up from seven as of early June 2022.)

But SBA is working to elect Mr. Trump, as well as Republican Senate candidates, although it does not officially endorse them, from four key states: Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The group is also campaigning for Mr. Trump in Georgia and North Carolina, where there are no Senate elections this year. Dannenfelser says her canvassers have knocked on more than 230,000 doors in North Carolina alone. (They also knock on doors for Moreno in Ohio and Sheehy in Montana.)

SBA decided it was more important to prevent Democrats from winning since they would restore abortion protections than to only support Republicans who endorse a 15-week limit.

“We cannot tolerate their adversaries [the Democrats],” Ms. Dannenfelser said. I think in the end, that’s the most important thing. »

Joe Biden and other Democrats are campaigning on the theme of abortion rights, which, according to polls, is one of the most promising issues for the president. Democrats highlighted their support for abortion rights as the second anniversary of the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade, decreed June 24.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer has scheduled a vote on codifying Roe /i> — the third vote on a rights bill reproductive issues in recent weeks — after the July 4 holiday, even though he knows the bill has no chance of passing.

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Restrictions on abortion chill women voters

Women are particularly skeptical of abortion restrictions. According to a new KFF poll of women voters, only 35 percent of Arizona voters and 34 percent of Michigan voters support a national ban on abortion after 15 weeks.

Donald Trump's position, which consists of leaving the matter to the states, has only slightly more support: 38% of voters support it in Arizona and 40% in Michigan, according to the poll .

The Democrats' advantage in the polls on the subject has led the Republicans to resort to what Ms. Dannenfelser calls “the strategy of burying their heads in the sand,” that is to say, head in the sand.

SBA is betting that addressing the issue head-on with voters who are open and sensitive to its arguments, including those who do not vote regularly, is a more effective strategy.

The group's canvassers are telling voters — rightly so — that Mr. Biden is committed to reinstating the Roe ruling he is re-elected and his party retains the Senate and takes back the House of Representatives.

Democrats “will suspend the filibuster and pass the Women's Health Protection Act, the name of which we vigorously contest,” Dannenfelser said, referring to a bill aimed at restoring the right to abortion throughout the country. “We will talk about that, in contrast to the pro-life candidate, and it will resonate with voters. »

Significant expenses

The $92 million SBA plans to spend this year is a substantial investment. By comparison, three outside groups—Senate Leadership Fund, American Crossroads and One Nation—aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell together spent nearly $400 million on Senate races in the last election cycle.

Sen. Steve Daines, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said he was grateful for SBA’s efforts.

“The group was very instrumental in helping me beat Steve Bullock by 10 points in Montana in 2020,” Daines said, referring to the popular Democratic governor who ran against him. “He was out there, going door to door, making sure pro-life voters were turning out to vote.”

But SBA's message that Democrats will restore Roe if they take over Washington in November sounds remarkably like what Democrats are telling voters — and Democrats argue that this mobilization could end up helping them. Sarafina Chitika, a spokesperson for Mr. Biden's campaign, said the team would be “happy” for SBA to get the message out.< /p>

“We are pleased to learn that the SBA Group intends to dedicate its resources to telling voters that Democrats will restore abortion rights at the federal level following their victory in November,” said Mini Timmaraju, president and CEO of Reproductive Freedom for All, an abortion rights group, in a statement to the Washington Post. “All it does is turn more voters away from the Republican Party and build support for our movement. »

“This investment is a major handicap for Republican Senate candidates, all of whom have gone out of their way for months to hide their support for a national abortion ban and who will now have to justify support from SBA,” Sarah Guggenheimer, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority PAC, the main political action committee supporting Democratic presidential candidates, told the Washington Post Senate.

According to Ms. Dannenfelser, Democrats have a flawed view of the issue, at least when it comes to a specific subgroup of voters. SBA canvassers point out that Republicans believe in limits on abortion and that Democrats would remove restrictions put in place since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

“This state of affairs creates a contrast that is a real gift for Republican candidates,” she concluded.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116