Chuck Grassley Is Downplaying His Anti-Abortion Extremism to Win Reelection

Earlier in the month, Chuck Grassley (an Iowa Senator) announced that he would be running for president. oppose a national 15-week limit on abortions. The question came up after Grassley’s Republican colleague, Lindsey GrahamJust such a ban was proposed by, and introduced legislationto that effect in Congress. In opposing Graham’s bill, Grassley joined 14 other GOP senatorsPublicly stating their opposition to any such legislation.

Grassley’s stance, however, doesn’t mean that he — or his GOP colleagues — have suddenly seen the light when it comes to reproductive rights. To be sure, two of the Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, have long supported abortion rights — although Collins’s credibility on the issue was tarnished when she backed Brett Kavanaugh’s elevation to the Supreme Court, despite his clear desire to overturn Roe v. WadeHowever, the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has a long history of working for the elimination of abortion access at the state as well as federal levels. Except for Murkowski, all of these senators were supportive of Kavanaugh. All of them voted to confirm Amy Coney Barrett (Trump-nominated justice) and Neil Gorsuch (Supreme Court nominee). Their confirmation paved the way to the eradication of abortion rights.

So, no, these GOP politicians haven’t suddenly moderated on abortion. They have, however, seen the election season. opinion polls. By large margins, Americans supported RoeThey express hostility to the total bans on all abortions, with no exceptions for incest or rape, that are being passed now by conservative GOP state legislators. Roe Trumpified Supreme Court overturned it.

In September 2021, a poll in Grassley’s home state of Iowa found that 56 percent of voters wanted to keep abortion legal in most or all cases — up from just shy of 50 percent in 2020. In July of this year, shortly after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health OrganizationDecision ended the national right of abortion, fully 60 percent of Iowans told pollsters they wanted to keep abortion legal — and only a third wanted it to be made illegal. (Six percent weren’t sure where they stood on the issue.)

Iowa is following the lead of many GOP-led states in making access to abortion almost impossible. Dobbs The legislature passed a fetal beat law, which effectively outlaws abortion after six weeks. Opposition the ACLU and Planned Parenthood are leading the defense of abortion access in the stateCourt hearings are likely to take place in the weeks leading up the November election.

Grassley is a savvy opportunist, when it comes his political well-being. Witness the fact that, despite having a long track record of opposing Trump’s more inflammatory statements, he welcomed the insurrection-inspiring ex-president onto the campaign trail with him last year. As CNN reported, Grassley stood next to Trump on a speaker platform and declared, “I was born at night, but not last night. So if I didn’t accept the endorsement of a person who has 91% of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn’t be too smart. I’m smart enough to accept that endorsement.” In other words, principles be damned, Trump can bring home the bacon.

It’s the same with abortion. Grassley has never met an anti-abortion law that he didn’t like. Now, though, he’s trying to avoid electoral blowback as voters realize that a right they had long taken for granted has been shredded. The modus operandi? Try not to talk about abortion on the campaign trail, and, when forced to do so, cloak yourself in a mantle of moderation by “vowing to oppose” Graham’s legislation — which was never anything other than a political stunt anyway, given the guarantee that Democrats wouldn’t allow it to pass in the Senate, and that if, somehow, some did, the resulting legislation would be instantly vetoed by President Biden.

It’s probably a smart strategy — for, while most pollsHis Democratic opponent Mike Franken has been comfortably ahead of him for the past several months. Des Moines Register/Mediacom Poll starting in October put Franken only three points behind Grassley.

Grassley’s shrinking lead could be part of a pattern throughout much of the Midwest that has emerged largely under the radar in the past month, as conservative governors and state legislators enforce zero-tolerance abortion bans in the face of growing public opposition to these measures.

In Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt — who signed into law one of the country’s most draconian anti-abortion bans — initially appeared to be coasting to reelection, with polls in early September giving him a 13-point lead. Today, that lead is now 1%. If Stitt loses it would be one the most unexpected upsets in this unpredictable electoral year.

Another example is Ohio, which passed a near-total ban on abortion. In that state’s senate race — a race once seen by Democrats as so far out of reach that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made a strategic decision not to sink large amounts of Democratic Party dollars into the contestRepublican J.D. Vance and Democrat Tim Ryan are now in a dead heatThere are only weeks left before the election.

Kansas, where anti-abortion advocates suffered a crushing electoral defeat in the summer, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly — rated by Republicans as the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent governor in the country — looks to be holding onto a slim lead in the polls.

Grassley will not talk about abortion in these final weeks of campaigning. Mike Franken, being smart, will bring the issue to light at every opportunity that he has between now November 8. Iowans are concerned about abortion access. driving significant numbers of young residents to register to vote. And as this past summer’s referendum in Kansas shows, when abortion access is on the ballot, even in conservative states surprises can happen.