At Wednesday’s 2nd Republican debate, Fox talk show host, Dana Perino, asked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis this question:
“I want to ask you something that is on a lot of Republicans’ minds. This election could come down to less than 50,000 votes in three states. Abortion was on the ballot in six states in 2022. Republicans lost all of them. Next year, abortion will likely be on the ballot in Arizona. That is a must-win state. Governor DeSantis, how are you going to win over independent pro-choice voters in Arizona?”
Governor DeSantis responded like this:
“The same way we did in Florida. We won the greatest Republican race in the history of the state, over 1.5 million votes. We were winning places like Miami/Dade County and Palm Beach which nobody thought was possible because we were leading with vision and conviction. I reject this idea that pro-lifers are to blame for mid-term defeats. I think there were other reasons for that. The former president, he’s missing in action tonight, and he’s had a lot to say about that. He should be here explaining his comments that say pro-life protections are a terrible thing. I want him to look into the eyes and tell people who have been fighting this fight for a long time. My wife and I were earlier today at the gravesite of Mr. and Mrs. Reagan, and I noticed that there was a quote that said, “Every single person has purpose and worth.” We’re better off when everybody counts, and I believe we should stand for what we believe in. I think we should hold the Democrats accountable for their extremism supporting abortion all the way up to the moment of birth. That is infanticide and that is wrong.”
The only other candidate asked about abortion, Governor Chris Christie, supported DeSantis by telling Dana Perino that, yes, pro-life referendums can pass, because he’s done it. But it takes leadership.
On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow and her smug cohort of abortion zealots mocked DeSantis for taking such a pro-life stance in the 2nd Republican debate. Like Donald Trump, they assert the Life issue is a loser for Republicans, implying that we pro-lifers should simply surrender. You can watch the exchange below.
But are they correct? As the Gershwin song says, “it ain’t necessarily so.”
DeSantis deserves a great deal of credit for his full-throated support of the pro-life cause in the 2nd Republican debate. He correctly points out that Donald Trump is a factor. As a reminder, Mr. Trump supported four Senate candidates who lost in 2022.
He supported 11 House candidates who lost and another ten losing gubernatorial candidates. Arizona candidate for governor, Kari Lake, was the ideal prototype of a Trump-endorsed candidate: she fixated on the idea that the 2020 election was stolen. Candidates who looked to the past, focusing on grievance as did Ms. Lake, lost.
Candidates who emulated the Ronald Reagan model by looking to the future while running on “vision and conviction,” like a Ron DeSantis, won big.
Pro-life candidates who remained on offense by promoting gestational limits on abortion enjoyed great success:
Alabama governor Kay Ivey won reelection with 67 percent of the vote.
Sara Huckabee Sanders won the Arkansas governorship with 63 percent.
Idaho governor Brad Little won reelection with 60 percent.
Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt won reelection with 55 percent.
South Dakota governor Kristi Noem won reelection with 62 percent.
Texas governor Greg Abbot won reelection with 55 percent.
Georgia governor Brian Kemp won reelection with 53 percent.
Here in Iowa, governor Kim Reynolds won reelection with 58 percent.
And the list goes on: Ohio governor Mike Dewine by 62 percent; Tennessee governor Bill Lee by 65 percent; South Carolina governor Henry McMaster by 58 percent.
And perhaps the highest profile winner of all was Florida governor Ron DeSantis who supported and signed pain-capable limits and a complete ban on abortions after 15 weeks. He won reelection by 60 percent after winning his first race for Governor by a mere four-tenths of a percent.
He won over Floridians with conviction and leadership, unlike so many of the Trump-backed candidates who got wobbly on abortion.
The pro-life movement has a great deal of appreciation for Trump’s Supreme Court nominees who threw out Roe v Wade. Voters must sort through many issues when considering a president. Each is important. But ultimately, we must ask this question:
“Does every single person have purpose and worth, no matter how small and vulnerable they may be?”
If a candidate waffles on this single question, they’re not going to be much of a leader.
After all, we’re better off when everybody counts.
[Pulse Life Advocates doesn’t endorse any particular candidate, but supports all candidates who stand up for the pro-life cause. Sign up today to attend our November 18th Christmas Gala.]