If Nikki Haley Was Really ‘Honest With the American People,’ She’d Say Abortion Wins

Haley evoked her now-signature promise to be truthful during the third GOP presidential debate, but it hit differently after this week's elections.

If Nikki Haley Was Really ‘Honest With the American People,’ She’d Say Abortion Wins
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The third GOP presidential debate was on Wednesday night in Miami, just one day after elections yielded pro-choice victories in multiple swing states. Ohio became the first Republican state to codify abortion rights since the fall of Roe v. Wade while Virginia flipped a chamber in an embarrassing defeat to their Governor who wanted to pass a 15-week abortion ban, and a Democrat won re-election in Kentucky(!).

You might think these results would humble some folks and nudge to them think about rethinking their strategy, but most of the five candidates on stage plowed forward with their usual talking points. That included former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

Moderator Kristen Welker, of NBC News, asked the group about Tuesday’s elections, the larger winning streak for abortion ballot measures, and the political challenges moving forward for candidates opposed to abortion. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) went first and we’ll get to him…but I want to ruminate a bit on Haley’s response.

“I think you have to be honest with the American people. This is a personal issue for every woman and every man,” she said, evoking a promise to be truthful which she’s trotted out in the past, namely at the first debate. “When it comes to the federal law, which is what’s being debated here, be honest, it’s gonna take 60 Senate votes, a majority of the House, and a President to sign it. So no, we haven’t had 60 Senate votes in over 100 years—we might have 45 pro-life senators—so no Republican president can ban abortions any more than a Democrat president can ban these state laws.”

One, she’s ignoring other ways a President could ban abortion, like via a rules change only requiring 50 Senate votes or by invoking some very horrifying legal doctrine. But more importantly, Haley actually isn’t being honest with the American people about abortion because if she were, she’d instead be saying things like, “It’s clear that people really don’t want politicians making these laws, and I pledge to never pursue any abortion restrictions.”

Instead of the truth, she said it’s time to find consensus on abortion and suggested a federal ban on abortions later in pregnancy and making contraception more available (which isn’t a given in her party!). She then repeats her extremely magnanimous view that state laws shouldn’t subject women who have abortions to the death penalty. The problem here is that there is already a consensus on abortion, and it’s that voters want you to stay the hell out of it.

OK, back to DeSantis, who said something accidentally insightful about the Ohio loss. “You gotta do a better job on these referenda. I think of all the stuff that’s happened to the pro-life cause they’ve been caught flat-footed on these referenda, and they have been losing,” he said. “A lot of the people who vote for the referenda are Republicans who would vote for a Republican candidate. So you got to understand how to do that.” He was sooooo close to getting it. Yes, Ron, even Republicans value reproductive freedom. Ohio exit polls showed that 18% of Republicans voted to pass Issue 1, as did a whopping 64% of Independents. Opposing abortion is a political loser, just like DeSantis.

Meanwhile, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) chose to double down on the very abortion strategy that just tanked in Virginia. He said he supports a “15-week national limit”—not “a ban”—and challenged others to back it. No one would. (Former Vice President Mike Pence was the most vocal 15-week defender in the first debate and, well, he has since dropped out.)

Entrepreneur and little shit (or “scum,” according to Haley) Vivek Ramaswamy was unfortunately the most reflective, which isn’t saying much. The Ohio resident said he was “upset” about the ballot measure (Issue 1) passing and said Republicans there should have been talking more about access to contraception and adoption. I don’t necessarily think that would have helped much, but he was at least willing to critique the party and act like he’d do literally something, anything different. Oh, and Chris Christie was there too.

Anyway, let’s hope none of these idiots becomes president and get to have a say over what we’re allowed to do with our bodies.

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