Steve Hayes: Paul-Wasserman Schultz Debate ‘Might Be a Hinge Point in Abortion Politics’

The Thursday panel of FNC’s Special Report with Bret Baier took on the late-term abortion debate between Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul and Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and included The Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes declaring that it could represent a possible “hinge point in abortion politics.”

After The Hill’s A.B. Stoddard praised the way Paul has addressed the issue and admitted that the topic of late-term abortion is “probably a winning issue” for the GOP, host Bret Baier asked Hayes if Wasserman Schultz’s recent comments are “politically selling.”

Hayes responded by explaining how the liberal Congresswoman’s comments were “unwise” and that “this might be a hinge point in abortion politics” with Paul’s framing of the debate being “absolutely brilliant”:

He reframed the issue and suggested that journalists go to Democrats and ask the question. Now, I think it’s unfortunate that Rand Paul has to do that. You would think that journalists might ask this question on their own, but they don't and I don't think it's occurred to any mainstream journalists to ask this question in the last two decades[.]

With the way that Paul has “reframed” the issue of abortion, Hayes added that it could lead to an overwhelming victory in favor of Republicans as well as put Hillary Clinton on the defensive:

I think, not only did Rand Paul flip the question and maybe change the way that we’re going to talk about late term abortions, but it could be a model for other issues and if you look at what Hillary Clinton has done, she refused to answer a question from my colleague John McCormack at The Weekly Standard who went to her spokespeople and said, this is a very simple question. This is what Debbie Wasserman Schultz said. What do you say? She won't answer.

Fellow Fox News contributor and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer agreed with Hayes and went on to make a few broader points about the issue:

Look, abortion is the one social issue on which conservatives have been winning and gaining over time. I think it’s largely a result of the new technology of the fact that you can see the child, that our understanding of the science of this is so developed and you see ultrasounds. So, that has changed particularly among young people.

By continuing to hit Democrats on late-term abortions, Krauthammer predicted that it will be “show the public the extremism of Democrats” and how the party has moved further left since the days of when liberal former Senator Patrick Moynihan “once called akin to infanticide.”

Krauthammer then concluded by urging Republicans to act and pass a late-term abortion ban:

The fact that Democrats would allow that, I think, is a terrible losing issue and it's a moral issue. It's also one on which the Republicans can actually act in the real world, apart from using it in campaigns. There is a national consensus on this. So why not work on the late term abortion issue and get legislation that will ban it. It's the right thing to do and it's a winning issue.

The relevant portions of the transcript from FNC’s Special Report with Bret Baier on April 16 can be found below.

FNC’s Special Report with Bret Baier
April 16, 2015
6:51 p.m. Eastern

BRET BAIER: On the issue of late-term abortion, seven states as well as the District of Columbia permit abortion up until birth in some cases and this is the latest poll on this question: Do you support legislation to ban most abortions after 20 weeks? Quinnipiac says 60 percent support. 33 percent oppose. Back with the panel. A.B., what about this issue to kind of flip the extremist tie of the parties?

A.B. STODDARD: Well, I think it's smart. I think Rand Paul – did a good job of doing this. I think the issue for Republicans is not abortion. It’s always been rape and contraception. The way that they’ve talked about those two topics in the past, which people tend to equate with abortion, has gotten them into political peril. Making Democrats defend late, late term abortion is probably a winning issue if you look at the polls. Obviously, 60 percent a strong majority, but, it takes someone who is swift to avoid the topic of rape. As you know, when there was a March for Life this year, the House got into a huge inter-conference, Republican-on-Republican tussle over this because legislation was going that wouldn’t only permit abortions for reported rapes.

(....)

BAIER: But when Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic Congresswoman, head of the DNC, says I support letting women and their doctors make this decision without government getting involved, period, end of story even up until the point of birth as a response, is that politically selling?

STEVE HAYES: No. It's unwise and I think this might be a hinge point in abortion politics, actually I think what Rand Paul did was absolutely brilliant. He reframed the issue and suggested that journalists go to Democrats and ask the question. Now, I think it’s unfortunate that Rand Paul has to do that. You would think that journalists might ask this question on their own, but they don't and I don't think it's occurred to any mainstream journalists to ask this question in the last two decades, but by reframing it as A.B. points out, this is on issue on which Republicans win and it's not just that they win 60-33 on the broad question. On this more specific questions and break it down demographically 2 to 1 women support a ban on late term abortions. 3 to 1 in some polls. Hispanics support a poll on late term abortions. I think, not only did Rand Paul flip the question and maybe change the way that we’re going to talk about late term abortions, but it could be a model for other issues and if you look at what Hillary Clinton has done, she refused to answer a question from my colleague John McCormack at The Weekly Standard who went to her spokespeople and said, this is a very simple question. This is what Debbie Wasserman Schultz said. What do you say? She won't answer.

BAIER: Well, she won't answer any of the questions we’ve been trying to get to her on a fair host of issues. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Look, abortion is the one social issue on which conservatives have been winning and gaining over time. I think it’s largely a result of the new technology of the fact that you can see the child, that our understanding of the science of this is so developed and you see ultrasounds. So, that has changed particularly among young people. So, on gay rights and all that gay marriage, the marijuana, the left is winning, but surely on this, and I think Republicans had this opportunity for years, but they get so caught up in the issue of the beginning of this process. When does life begin, that they have ignored this obvious issue and it isn't only an issue. It isn't only that they will win if they show the public the extremism of Democrats who would allow a woman, with or without her doctor is ridiculous, a woman to decide to abort a child within hours of birth in the partial birth abortion, which Pat Moynihan, a great Democratic liberal once called akin to infanticide. The fact that Democrats would allow that, I think, is a terrible losing issue and it's a moral issue. It's also one on which the Republicans can actually act in the real world, apart from using it in campaigns. There is a national consensus on this. So why not work on the late term abortion issue and get legislation that will ban it. It's the right thing to do and it's a winning issue.

NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Pro-choicers Pro-lifers Abortion Fox News Channel Special Report Video Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Stephen Hayes Steve Hayes Bret Baier Charles Krauthammer A.B. Stoddard Rand Paul Debbie Wasserman Schultz
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