“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.” This quotation, attributed to Groucho Marx, may be funny when lightheartedly imagining a stereotypical politician. However, when it is unapologetically exemplified by Republicans on the issue of abortion and a woman’s right to choose, it’s no laughing matter.
Minnesota provides us with the most recent example. GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen has repeatedly gone on record in favor of banning abortion in his state. Specifically, Jensen has called for a ban without exceptions for rape and incest, assuming the mother’s life is not threatened.
A sizeable majority of the public disapproves of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, and Jensen’s extreme position on abortion appears to have hurt him bigly in the polls against Democratic incumbent Gov. Tim Walz. So, to paraphrase Marx, Jensen has apparently decided it’s time to roll out his “other principles.”
In a new video released on Thursday, Jensen spends half a minute accusing Walz of weaponizing the abortion debate after Republicansplaining that “abortion is divisive.” Jensen then declares that abortion is a “protected, Constitutional right,” that “no governor can change that,” and that he’s “not running to do that.”
Having backed off his extreme position, Jensen then tries to abandon the issue altogether by pivoting to what he now claims are the real reasons he’s running: “we need safe streets, excellent schools, parental rights, and more money in the family budget.” Holding a baby in his arms throughout the video while trumpeting his record for delivering hundreds of them as a doctor, Jensen closes by imploring viewers to direct their focus on these other “issues that matter.”
In Arizona, GOP Senate candidate Blake Masters tried to back down without issuing a head-scratching retreat-and-pivot video. After securing the Republican nomination, Masters quietly changed the text on his campaign website to stop calling himself a “100% pro-life” candidate and a supporter of a federal personhood law “that recognizes that unborn babies are human beings that may not be killed.” Masters overhauled five out of his six positions, according to a report from NBC News.
It seems that removing extreme abortion language to suddenly rebrand oneself as more moderate is a GOP thing. HuffPost found that Michigan State Sen. Tom Barrett and Colorado candidate Barbara Kirkmeyer, who are both running for Congress, and New Mexico gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti are a few more of what are “probably” many examples of this quiet, shameful flip-flopping that tests whether “voters are paying attention.”
Today’s Republican Party has become well known for either holding fast to deplorable, extreme positions, or quickly (and shiftily) abandoning them depending on which way the political wind is blowing, revealing a selfish, amoral lust for power. Abortion is one of several critical issues on the ballot in November, and, unlike the Democrats, the GOP has proven that in both ideology and strategy, they fail epically.