RNC chair: 2024 GOP candidates must confront abortion 'head-on'

Ronna McDaniel is telling Republican candidates that they must address abortion rights if they hope to find success in upcoming elections.
RNC chair: 2024 GOP candidates must confront abortion 'head-on'
Posted at 1:12 PM, May 01, 2023

The Republican party is finding itself divided on a key issue heading into the 2024 presidential election: abortion rights.

Lawmakers at both the state and federal levels have differing ideas on how to address the issue, and the lack of agreement is weighing on candidates who are campaigning for primaries.

Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, is telling Republican candidates to put the issue of abortion front and center.

"Abortion was a big issue in key states like Michigan and Pennsylvania," McDaniel said in an interview with Fox News, referring to the 2022 midterm elections. "So the guidance we're going to give to our candidates is, you have to address this head-on."

So far, it appears some Republican candidates are heeding her advice.

GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley unveiled her stance on the issue last week, proposing a strikingly different approach — both in rhetoric and policy — than some of her conservative counterparts.

"I want to save as many babies and help as many moms as possible. That is my goal," she said. "To do that at the federal level, the next president must find national consensus."

The Haley campaign maintains that the former governor of South Carolina is uniquely positioned to discuss the issue of abortion and is seeking common ground.

SEE MORE: Abortion spotlighted as 2024 GOP hopefuls pitch faith-based voters

In contrast, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — a potential presidential candidate — signed a bill into law last month that bans abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy. Rather than use that moment to voice his broad stance on the issue, DeSantis had little to say publicly. 

"We are proud to support life and family in the state of Florida," he said in a statement. "I applaud the Legislature for passing the Heartbeat Protection Act that expands pro-life protections and provides additional resources for young mothers and families."

Former President Donald Trump is the clear front-runner in the Republican field, but he's also remained fairly quiet on the issue. Sources close to the 2024 Trump campaign told Scripps News that he's not looking to discuss specific abortion policies ahead of the primary elections. However, many will argue that it was his appointment of conservative justices to the Supreme Court that ultimately led to overturning of Roe v. Wade last summer. 

SEE MORE: Abortion driving more women to vote

A recent NBC News poll found 58% of the country says abortion should be legal in all or most cases. But within the growing Republican presidential field, most candidates have pledged to limit abortion access. 

Either way, it has become a politically polarizing issue and is expected to play a major role in upcoming elections.

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