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Glen Youngkin tries to find reasonable abortion stance?

Most nations in the EU allow abortions up to between 12 and 18 weeks. Europeans are deeply divided on the issue as Americans but have found a reasonable compromise. Imagine if we could do the same.

Imagine if reasonable people in the center could take back this country from the whackjobs that inhabit the fringe. Glenn Youngkin deserves your vote*!

* Don't worry if you're not a Virginia resident, we can fix that.

Can Glenn Youngkin Pull Off Another Magic Trick in Virginia?

GOP governor makes pitch for abortion restrictions, conservative governance in his bluish state’s off-year election

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, has gone all in on the off-year election that determines party control of the state Senate and House of Delegates.

By Molly Ball, WSJ

Updated Nov. 4, 2023 12:01 am ET

CHANTILLY, Va.—The Republican Party’s great hope sat scrunched in the back of his gubernatorial SUV, acknowledging the high-stakes gamble he has undertaken. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has put all his political capital on the line in Tuesday’s statehouse elections, hoping to prove that a bluish state can be persuaded to go for conservative governance and restrictions on abortion.

“I don’t know how to hedge my bets,” said Youngkin, the lanky, affable former private-equity executive elected in 2021. “I don’t believe in it. I think that we are driving towards an outcome that I think is best for Virginia, and therefore I’m going to go to work with everything I have in order to try to deliver.”

Despite not being on the ballot himself, Youngkin has gone all in on the off-year vote that will determine which party controls the state Senate and House of Delegates and that tends to serve as an early sign of the national political mood. He has made it a mission to recruit, endorse, fundraise and campaign for the GOP’s legislative candidates, and has spent the final days before the election encouraging voters to elect a supportive “team” to back him up in Richmond. At the time he spoke, he had spent an unseasonably warm Saturday energetically stumping for Republican candidates in swing districts in Northern Virginia and was preparing to wade through the crowds shopping for saris and samosas at a Heritage India Festival near Dulles Airport.

The crux of the strategy is Youngkin’s drive to unify the party around an abortion position that he hopes can solve one of the GOP’s most vexing political problems. A Republican-controlled statehouse, he is promising, would restrict abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother, but no further. The gambit represents Republicans’ latest effort to find a palatable stance on an issue that has flummoxed the party since last year’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, one that doesn’t alienate swing voters. If it works, he said, “I think it should be a national message that Republicans can learn from.”

Despite not being on the ballot, Glenn Youngkin has been stumping across Virginia for GOP candidates, including at a recent festival where he was joined by state Senate candidate Juan Pablo Segura (standing in white shirt).

It also could determine the political future of an appealing but untested candidate widely seen as a hot prospect for the national Republican Party. If Youngkin’s party loses, he risks tarnishing his heretofore pristine political brand. But if he wins, it will only intensify the pining of the GOP donor class for the politician many view as the one that got away. Deep-pocketed Republicans wary of former President Donald Trump continue to float Youngkin as a potential last-minute 2024 presidential race entrant despite the obstacles to such a scheme. “Maybe we can talk him into it,” one Youngkin backer, Thomas Peterffy, recently told CBS News’s Robert Costa.

Youngkin, 56 years old, has been fending off such overtures since practically the day he took office. These days he has honed his coy response to the 2024 questions to a very fine point, professing a deep concern with the Republican Party’s future both locally and nationally while refusing to contemplate any potential role for himself in such a future, and all the while never completely, definitively declaring that he will under no circumstances consider becoming a candidate. “It’s humbling to have people talk about this with me,” he said. “I deeply appreciate it, because it reflects the fact that what we’re doing is working in a way that not only is delivering for Virginians, but also garnering a lot of attention from folks outside Virginia—that common-sense conservative leadership works.” At the same time, he says, “I’ve been at the Rockingham County Fair, not the Iowa State Fair. I’m in Fauquier County, not in New Hampshire.”

To Democrats, Youngkin is ripe for a comeuppance. “I think he thinks he’s cracked the code,” said Don Scott, the Democratic leader in the state House of Delegates. “But he’s going to get his head cracked.”

The Republican crush on Youngkin stems from the magic trick he pulled off in 2021, when a state that had voted for President Biden by 10 points suddenly turned around and handed the governorship to the first-time candidate. Having lost the White House and Senate and then seeing Trump leave office without conceding on the heels of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, the GOP was reeling and unmoored; it seemed that no candidate could win a primary without Trump’s imprimatur yet none could win a general election burdened by its taint. Youngkin, a former college basketball player with a suburban-dad aesthetic exemplified by his signature red fleece vest, made education his central issue, tapping into parental angst over Covid school closures and controversies over the teaching of race and gender. He accepted Trump’s endorsement while keeping the former president at arm’s length.

Skeptics note that Youngkin benefited from a flawed Democratic opponent and fortunate timing, with voters souring on the Biden administration’s handling of Covid and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Were Youngkin to seek the national stage, it is questionable whether the multimillionaire former CEO of the Carlyle Group would appeal to an electorate in a populist mood.

Glenn Youngkin hopes to unify the GOP around an abortion position that represents a new approach to one of the GOP’s most vexing political problems.

Youngkin’s narrow win, powered by massive turnout from the state’s Trump-loving rural south coupled with record support from Black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters, lifted the hopes of Republicans across the country. But in the years since, his formula has proved difficult to replicate. And while his 2021 coattails helped sweep in other Republicans statewide, the divided state legislature, where Democrats narrowly control the state Senate, made it difficult to rack up policy victories. The challenge got even steeper after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. So now Youngkin is trying to pull off another magic trick: finding a pro-life message that captures the center.

Many operatives see the abortion issue as partly to blame for Republicans’ disappointing showing in last year’s midterms, believing it alienated women and suburban voters who might have otherwise gravitated to the party’s stances on issues like inflation and crime. Youngkin’s political advisers believe GOP candidates erred by avoiding the issue, giving Democrats free rein to depict all Republicans as wanting to ban abortion without exceptions.

Youngkin is pushing his party to go on offense instead. Abortion isn’t the centerpiece of his message, and the vast majority of GOP candidates’ ads focus on other issues, particularly crime. But he hopes that taking a clear and arguably moderate position will reassure voters that electing a GOP-controlled legislature wouldn’t lead to the six-week or total bans that many red states have adopted. Currently Virginia law allows abortions through the second trimester.

Youngkin argues that his proposal, a 15-week abortion limit with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother, represents a politically acceptable compromise between those who would ban all abortions and those who would see no legal limits on the procedure. (Polling shows most voters in various surveys saying abortion should be legal but not unlimited.) His PAC has spent more than $1 million on ads that tout the “reasonable 15-week limit” and accuse Democrats of spreading “disinformation” and supporting “no limits at all.”

“People recognize that that’s a reasonable place,” Youngkin said. “I think Virginia can again demonstrate that we can come together around a topic that is really tough on the nation.” He said questions about whether he would sign further limits were irrelevant because legislative leaders have promised not to send them to his desk.

Virginia’s off-year election tends to serve as an early sign of the national political mood and could determine the political future of Glenn Youngkin, an appealing but untested candidate.

Youngkin has worked to keep Virginia Republicans on message in support of his position. “We are in lockstep with the governor on his proposal to find a reasonable place to land on a very contentious issue,” said House Speaker Todd Gilbert, a Republican who credited Youngkin with getting even “adamantly pro-life” politicians like himself on board. “The governor will never see a bill beyond the 15 weeks, as much as the other side wants that not to be the case.”

Democrats remain skeptical and have seized on some Republican candidates’ comments advocating abortion bans, amplifying them in millions of dollars’ worth of ads. “The majority of Virginians want abortion laws to stay as they are or to be less restrictive,” said U.S. Rep. Jennifer McClellan, a Democrat who successfully pushed to repeal abortion restrictions when she was a member of the state Senate. Republicans, McClellan said, “have been caught saying they want a ban, and this is the first step to getting it. What they want, no matter what you call it, is out of step with what Virginians want.”

Youngkin also has sought to restore Republicans’ confidence in the election process and get them to vote early despite the doubts Trump has sown in early and absentee voting. At a recent rally in New Hampshire, the former president encouraged his supporters to scrutinize poll workers: “Don’t worry about voting. We’ve got plenty of votes,” he said. “You’ve got to watch.” Without naming Trump, Youngkin has pushed hard against that idea, touring the state in a “Secure Your Vote” bus and urging supporters to get to the polls. “This is part of winning that we need to embrace,” he said in the interview.

Though Youngkin is personally popular, many Republicans are privately pessimistic that he can lift their candidates in a difficult issue environment. One Youngkin adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity, predicted a “massacre,” saying the state’s center-left orientation and views on abortion would be too much for Youngkin to overcome.

Whether such an outcome dampens the ardor of Youngkin’s devoted boosters remains to be seen. Last month, Youngkin hosted his second “Red Vest Retreat,” convening dozens of big-money donors to boost his legislative campaign push. The message he heard from them, he said, was “Keep going, Glenn! Keep going, you’re doing great!”

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