McKay Coppins listens to Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, and Steve King and concludes that Republicans are moving away from same-sex marriage and abortion. Cruz, for example, talked about a “culture of life” at the “New Hampshire Freedom Summit” but did not use the word “abortion.” (Standard disclaimer: Cruz is an old friend.) I wouldn’t read too much into this. As Huckabee notes, most people know where these guys and their party stand on these issues. I mean no disrespect to Coppins, either, in saying that I’ve been reading these retreat-from-social-issues articles for a long time, and they always seem to have in their background an imaginary past when Republican candidates all sounded like Alan Keyes.
Pro-lifers generally don’t need their candidates to talk all the time about their cause. Considering that cause a liability is a different matter. Some eyebrows might be raised at this passage about Senator Rand Paul:
Paul, who devoted a chunk of his speech to the need for softer criminal sentences for drug offenders, told reporters afterward that his light touch on traditional social issues is a function of his work to expand the Republican coalition. “I want a bigger party, not a smaller party. I want to win national elections, not lose them.”
There isn’t much evidence that social issues, especially abortion, have cost the Republican party elections. One thing that could cost Republicans an election: running on Rand Paul’s plan to raise taxes on millions of middle-class households.