The Corner

Politics & Policy

Democratic Senators Dodge Northam Comments

Sen. Tim Kaine (D, Va.) (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Henry Rodgers and Kerry Picket, reporters at the Daily Caller, asked several Democratic senators for comment yesterday on Virginia governor Ralph Northam’s recent interview and subsequent statements about a late-term abortion bill in his state. Northam appeared to suggest that the legislation would allow doctors to deny medical care to at least some newborn infants depending on the circumstances and whether the mother wanted an abortion.

Nearly every senator said they weren’t aware of Northam’s comments. Here’s what they each told the Daily Caller.

Tim Kaine, a senator from Virginia, appeared to split from the Democratic party in his state, telling the Caller, “I’m not going to comment about comments. I’ll just tell you the existing Virginia law, I think, is the right law, and it’s consistent with Roe v. Wade, where the state is able to impose meaningful regulations of a third trimester of pregnancy.”

“I haven’t seen them,” Ron Wyden (Ore.) told Rodgers of Northam’s comments. Wyden walked away after Rodgers told him the comments were about late-term abortion.

“I haven’t seen anything,” Joe Manchin (W.Va.) said. “I’ve been in retreats. Obviously I just got out of a meeting.”

Ed Markey (Mass.) told Rodgers, “I don’t know what he said. I don’t know what he said.”

“I have no idea what he said,” said Pat Leahy (Vt.). “I have no idea what happened there. I do follow the governor of Vermont though, all the time.”

“I know what it is about,” Jack Reed (R.I.) acknowledged. “I have not listened.”

When asked if he heard Northam’s comments, Bob Menendez (N.J.) replied simply, “No.” before getting on the Senate subway.

Chris Murphy of Connecticut denied having heard the interview. “I mean I’m pro-choice,” he said. “I support Connecticut’s laws regarding choice. Connecticut is not talking about changing its laws.” He didn’t answer whether he supports late-term abortion.

“I have not heard them actually. I have not,” said Chris Van Hollen (Md.). Rodgers then asked if the senator supports late-term abortion. “I support Roe v. Wade. Okay. That’s the holding that I support,” Van Hollen replied.

“I’m literally mid sentence talking to staff about the vote I have to take right now. Happy to talk to you soon,” Chris Coons (Del.) told Rodgers. When Rodgers asked if Coons had heard the comments, the senator replied, “I’ve been in a caucus retreat for two days.”

Doug Jones of Alabama was perhaps the most forthcoming, if a bit unclear: “This is what I think about all of this. I think people need to sit down and talk a little bit about what we can do to keep people — women — from having to make very, very difficult choices.”

Picket then asked Jones for his opinion on abortion during labor. “I support the law as it stands right now and that’s what we’re going to stick with, and I just think that we all need to speak a little bit together and talk about how we can do to (sic).”

The controversy surrounding Northam’s comments this week has exposed not only Democratic extremism on late-term abortion, but also Democrats’ unwillingness even to clearly articulate where they stand on the issue.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated since its initial publication.

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