Fox News host Sean Hannity closed out a discussion about abortion by suggesting the Republican Party is too far to the right on the issue as far as the rest of the country is concerned.
Hannity pointed to Tuesday’s vote in Ohio, where voters rejected a ballot measure (57% to 43%) that would have raised the threshold for amending the state’s constitution from a simple majority to 60%. Supporters of the initiative hoped it would pass to thwart a November ballot measure that, if approved, would enshrine abortion protections in Ohio’s constitution.
“We saw the vote in Ohio,” he told guests Mike Huckabee and Tudor Dixon on Thursday before floating the idea that abortion bans before 15 weeks of pregnancy repel some voters. “The fear among many, many conservatives is that this will chase away many suburban voters. Do you agree with that, Mike Huckabee?”
Huckabee rejected this and suggested Republicans simply have a messaging problem.
“I do not,” he replied. “I think the problem is that Republicans have done a very pitiful job of explaining that the difference is that we want to protect life, while Democrats want to take it right up to the point of birth. They want to butcher a fully-developed child. We’ve got to take it to the Democrats. Quit playing defense. Let’s be clear about what we stand for.”
Hannity gave the last word to Dixon, who disagreed.
“Their message is very strong on this,” she said. “They’ve won over women. We saw it. We just saw it in Ohio. We have to start fighting on the cultural side of it, and we have to fight on the issues that matter to people politically on the political side in a different way.”
Hannity then suggested the GOP is not where the rest of the country is on abortion:
I think the American people– and I consider myself pro-life, I believe in the sanctity of life, but I think politically that there is– Republicans have gotta say as Bill Clinton once said – I never thought I’d quote him – “rare,” “legal,” and I’d add the word[s], “very early in a pregnancy.” That seems to be – politically – where the country is. Maybe I’m wrong. But we’ll see. That vote in Ohio is pretty, pretty sobering.
Republican-controlled legislatures across the country have passed a spate of anti-abortion laws in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The court struck down a constitutional right to abortion that had been precedent-setting since 1973.
Nevertheless, the Democratic base has mobilized and scored several victories for reproductive rights in various states. Some Republican strategists have posited that the issue cost the party in the 2022 midterms and are already fretting over potentially more backlash in the 2024 elections.