Fact check: How Democratic ads mislead four GOP candidates’ positions on abortion


Democrats have spent weeks attacking Republican midterm candidates with abortion TV ads. Some ads were misleading.

Many Democratic ads accurately portray the tough anti-abortion stances of their Republican targets. But others use slippery wording and the power of innuendo to make it seem like some Republican candidates have taken more aggressive anti-abortion stances than those candidates actually have.

Some ads try to make it seem like Republicans who support exceptions for rape, incest, and mother’s life are opposed to those exceptions. Other ads attempt to give the impression that Republicans who have opposed the idea of ​​a federal ban on abortion are in favor of a federal ban.

Here’s a look at ads targeting four Republican candidates for the House of Representatives. This list is not meant to be exhaustive; we haven’t watched all of the many abortion commercials that have been shown across the country.

An October ad attacking Esther Joy King, the Republican candidate for Illinois’ 17th District, claimed that “Esther Joy King even supports Republicans who want a nationwide ban on abortion with no exceptions for rape or sexual assault.” incest”.

While the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ad was correct, King describes herself as “unapologetically pro-life” and that she rented the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the ad did not mention that King had said in August that she supported exceptions for rape, incest and mother’s life. And during a debate the day before the announcement was released, King also said she opposes a federal ban on abortion.

The DCCC’s wording — King “stands with Republicans who want” a nationwide ban on abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest — helped the ad avoid explicitly claiming that King herself wants a nationwide ban on abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest. But the ad failed to acknowledge that King had taken a public stand against the proposals the ad insinuated she planned to support.

A lawyer for King’s campaign sent a letter to TV stations asking them to stop running the ad, claiming the DCCC was “libeling” King by “deliberately misrepresenting” his position. CNN could not determine how each station responded.

DCCC spokeswoman Helen Kalla supported the ad about King and the DCCC ads about two other Republican candidates that CNN discusses later in this article, Marc Molinaro and April Becker. Kalla argued that Republicans are “desperately trying to mislead voters about their positions.”

A DCCC ad published in mid-September claimed that Marc Molinaro, the Republican candidate for New York’s 19th District, “would stand with politicians who support a nationwide ban on abortion.” The text on the screen read: “MARC MOLINARO”, “POLITICIANS BANNING ABORTION IN THE NATIONAL”, “EVEN FOR VICTIMS OF RAPE AND INCEST”.

But Molinaro said he opposes a nationwide abortion ban and supports exceptions to rape and incest.

Molinaro describes himself as “personally pro-life” and generally opposes abortion after 17 weeks. But he said in a debate in August that he would not support a nationwide ban, explaining that “I don’t believe Congress has a role to play” in the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v . Wade. (He said there should be “thoughtful limitations” at the state level on late-term abortions.) At another event in August, Molinaro said of abortion, “I don’t support the ‘imposition of the federal will on the states’. And at an August 3 event, he said, according to WSKG radio, that he supported exceptions for “mother’s life, rape and incest”, including after 17 weeks.

We cannot definitively verify what Molinaro would have do if elected, and this ad was also crafted to avoid directly claiming that Molinaro himself wants a nationwide abortion ban with no exceptions for rape and incest. But like the ad against King in Illinois, the ad against Molinaro did not acknowledge that the candidate formally opposed those proposals.

A Molinaro campaign lawyer sent a letter to TV stations asking them to stop airing the ad. The letter said it is not true that Molinaro would support politicians supporting a national abortion ban, adding that “the ad does not provide any citations or other support for this false claim.” CNN could not determine how each station responded.

The ad was verified in late September by the Albany Times Union. The Times Union noted that during a 2018 New York gubernatorial race, Molinaro expressed support for the general idea that New York pass state legislation to codify the right to abortion if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade – although he doubted the court would. as well and also said, as the DCCC announcement correctly noted, that he did not support the particular codification bill that state lawmakers were considering at the time.

Molinaro’s campaign manager, Will Dawson, said in an email to CNN that Democrats were making up “lies” about Molinaro.

A DCCC ad published in mid-September identified Republican candidate for Nevada’s 3rd District, April Becker, as one of the Nevada House candidates who “want to join Republicans in Congress in trying to ban the abortion nationwide, including Nevada”.

While Becker obviously wants to be part of the Republican caucus in Congress, the ad does not mention that she has repeatedly pledged to vote against any federal ban on abortion.

In an interview published five days before the DCCC ad began airing, NBC News quoted Becker as saying she would “absolutely not” vote for an abortion ban in the House because she believes a ban imposed by Congress “would be unconstitutional”. This position was not new to her. She also said in a July interview with Nevada Newsmakers that she believed a federal ban on abortion “would be unconstitutional,” adding that since (in her reading) the Supreme Court said abortion is a matter for the states to decide, “I don’t see how you could in good faith pass a law in Congress that takes that away from the states.

FactCheck.org previously fact-checked another abortion-related DCCC ad about Becker.

Meanwhile, an ad released last week by the House Majority PAC, the Democrats’ main outside spending entity for home races, features a narrator saying Becker was endorsed by ‘extremists’ who would enact a nationwide ban. of abortion without “any exception for rape, incest or the life of the mother.

But even the DCCC’s research brief on Becker notes that Becker herself publicly voiced support for all three exceptions — and did so on her website even during the Republican primary.

“Becker’s website has never changed on this,” Jeremy Hughes, general consultant for the Becker campaign, told CNN last week.

The group quoted by the House Majority PAC ad when it said Becker had been endorsed by anti-abortion ‘extremists’ Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America told CNN last week that it supports various types of anti-abortion legislation in various jurisdictions, including Senator Lindsey Graham’s recently proposed 15-week ban that includes all three exceptions, and that she endorses anti-abortion candidates who support all three exceptions.

The group also supports much stricter anti-abortion laws than Graham’s proposal, including legislation that does not include the three exceptions. But again: Becker supports these exceptions.

A House Majority PAC ad released in late September targeted George Logan, the Republican nominee for Connecticut’s 5th District. The ad said “Republicans in Washington are talking about a nationwide abortion ban, including in Connecticut, and George Logan would help them — by voting for Republican leaders who have promised to do just that.”

The ad did not mention that Logan himself had repeatedly expressed his support for abortion rights and his opposition to a national abortion ban.

More than a week before the ad aired, the CT Mirror reported that Logan had said, “I don’t support a nationwide ban. I think it should be up to the states. Right here in Connecticut, we’ve codified a woman’s right to choose. That’s what I support. CT Insider reported that Logan said of abortion in a July interview that “I think it should be safe, legal, and most importantly, rare”; he added in July that he was “categorically opposed to late-term abortions”, but said later in the interview that he would even support such abortions for medical reasons.

In an October interview with the CT Examiner, Logan said he was in favor of parental notification policies when minors seek abortions. But he also said: “I support a woman’s right to choose, but I think it should be safe, legal and rare. I don’t support late abortions out of convenience. I’m not talking about when there’s a medical emergency or that sort of thing.

Again, we can’t definitively state what Logan would “do” in power. And again, this ad was written to avoid explicitly saying that Logan himself wants a national abortion ban. But the ad certainly failed to acknowledge that Logan had repeatedly said he was in favor of abortion rights in most cases.

House Majority PAC maintained its ads on Logan and Becker. Communications director CJ Warnke argued in an email to CNN that both candidates are backed by anti-abortion extremists and “will wholeheartedly support attempts by Kevin McCarthy and Republican leaders to implement a ban.” abortion national”.

Liz Kurantowicz, general consultant for the Logan campaign, said in an email that Democrats are trying to take a “one size fits all” approach to the campaign even though “it doesn’t work against George Logan.” She said “for Democrats, the inconvenient truth remains that George has a long-standing record for women’s right to choose.”

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