NH Journal just released the results of a poll it commissioned to find out what New Hampshire voters think about some of the potential 2016 presidential candidates. More than three years in advance of the election, there are plenty of “unsures” among the poll’s respondents. Abortion advocate Hillary Clinton has solid Democratic support, while there is no early Republican frontrunner.
The results as released to the public on July 21 are about candidates, not issues. I’m not seeing a referendum where there is none. It’ll be interesting, though, to see how pro-life candidates fare in the run-up to the New Hampshire primary in early 2016.
Clinton has been a consistent opponent of all measures regulating abortion, including funding restrictions and parental notification. She has not to my knowledge spoken publicly about the HHS mandate, but in her remarks as Secretary of State on behalf of the Administration (example here), she refers to freedom of “worship” rather than freedom of religion. This is not a promising sign. Freedom to worship covers whatever is done within the four walls of a church building. Freedom of religion covers protection of conscience and religious practice, no matter where the believer might be. The HHS mandate does not restrict worship, but it certainly affects freedom of religion.
All the single-digits Dems in her wake – Biden, Shaheen, Cuomo, O’Malley – have opposed abortion regulations, even those supported under Roe v. Wade and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
It comes as no surprise to this veteran of Republican campaigns that Republican voters are all over the place at this point in the cycle, with “unsure” the favorite reply. Then come Paul-Christie-Rubio. Rand Paul spoke at this year’s March for Life in D.C., and he has been an outspoken critic of the mandate. Chris Christie said in 2011, “I am pro-life. I believe in exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother. Take it or leave it.” I’ve heard Marco Rubio speak several times, always including in his remarks a reference to the right to life.
Where the life issues are concerned, the distinctions among the GOP contenders will be teased out in due course. I suspect abortion advocacy PACs and 527s will use the same fundraising script, no matter who gets the nod.