EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump White House adviser Kellyanne Conway is leading the charge to overhaul her party’s abortion strategy heading into the 2024 elections.
The top Republican strategist spoke with Fox News Digital after meeting with a number of GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week to discuss what she argues is the need to promote contraception and reach a consensus on the abortion issue lest Democrats continue to use it as a “turnout intensifier” in November.
“I think pro-lifers have to be very mindful to speak about two people being involved in an abortion — the baby and the mother. So, I’m urging opinion leaders and office holders and all their decision makers, as well as candidates, to speak with conviction and compassion. That’s the piece that’s missing,” Conway said when asked about the meetings.
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“The overwhelming data in contraception polling is meant to work in tandem with, not in lieu of, the pro-life abortion messaging,” she said, referring to polling showing widespread support for contraceptives across the country.
Conway’s effort to move Republicans toward a “winning” strategy comes as more states have held abortion-related ballot initiatives after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year and as Democrats continue to claim GOP lawmakers and candidates want to ban abortion.
Strategists and operatives from both parties argue the issue has driven more voter turnout for Democrats in state and local elections across the country, evidenced by better margins for the Democratic position in those initiatives and other coinciding races.
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Conway says such ballot initiatives haven’t gone in Republicans’ favor because the left has pushed such measures under the guise of “reproductive freedom for all,” combined with the lack of exceptions for rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother in efforts to limit, or ban, abortion.
“To speak with conviction and compassion, to reflect consensus, to move hearts and minds, means that if you want to discuss a 15-week national minimum standard, then you are reflecting consensus,” she said, citing statistics that show a strong majority of Americans fall within the range that there should be no abortion at all and no abortions past 15 weeks.
“When you do that, you get up to 71% of America, and that reflects consensus. But it also shows conviction and compassion, because in 15 weeks, a woman knows she’s pregnant and the baby can feel pain,” she added.
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Conway argued that if Republicans could reach such a consensus, they would be “smoking out” Democrats who have “radical, extreme, out-of-step, out-of-sync positions on abortion, anyone, anytime, anywhere, anyhow.”
She added, however, that it was a “mistake” to say all Democrats support abortion until the moment of birth, citing focus groups and polling that show the consensus across the country is against partial birth abortion and late-term abortion, especially after looking at the science showing babies can feel pain at “roughly 15 weeks.”
“They’re against taxpayer-funded abortion. They’re against sex selection abortion when a woman can learn she’s pregnant in the morning, learn the sex of the baby by noon and schedule an abortion for that afternoon. Now, people will say that’s not true because they don’t want it to be true. That is true. What I just said to you is a fact,” Conway said.
Conway also suggested a consensus, along with scientific understanding, could “move the hearts and minds” of Democrats supporting late-term abortion and shift their view.
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“When you give these shock-the-conscious anecdotes, and you couple that with warm-the-heart information, then you have a more winning message,” she said. “Pro-lifers should not be ostriches, they should be peacocks. They should not bury their head in the sand. They should be very proud that they’re on the right side of science and medicine and morality and common sense and consensus opinion.”
Despite that, Conway said she fully expects Democrats to continue claiming Republicans support banning abortion and contraception throughout the 2024 election cycle, but that, with her strategy, the GOP could get ahead of that messaging.
“We’re getting ahead of that by showing that this is a winning issue to say that you believe that women, and yes, men, but women, who can legally access contraceptive measures are able to do that now,” she said. “It is a losing formula to cede to the Democrats the women’s vote, women’s health, choice, women’s health care. And so we’re expanding what that means, and we are smoking out the Democrats.
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“When they say, ‘We’re for women, and we’re for women’s health,’ what they really mean is abortion. It’s all a euphemism for abortion. And if you don’t believe me, believe them. They cannot even condemn Hamas’ rape of women, beheading and baking babies and raping women. And the reason they’re not interested in that is because they’re interested in one thing — abortion.”
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