Six Ways to Defeat Pro-Life Candidates

by Carol Long-Tobias
National Right to Life PAC Director
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In every niajor elcction since 1980, pro-life candidates have had the advantage when it comes to voters and abortion. Of those voters who select their candidate based on his or her abortion position, more will vote for the pro-lifc candidate than thc pro-abortion candidate. These votes will come from men and women, Republicans and Democrats -- all segments of society. In a close race, those single-issue pro-life votes make the difference.

Unfortunately, some pro-abortion candidates win because part of the pro-life community doesn’t help elect pro-life candidates; it helps defeat them. When pro-abortion candidates win, unborn babies lose. So what could you do to help defeat pro-life candidates?

-1- Fall in love with your candidate

We encourage pro-lifers to get involved in campaigns. Their active participation and volunteer activities can help a pro-life candidate build a strong campaign. It also puts the pro-lifer in contact with the candidates so that if he/she wins, the candidate can put a face to the pro-life community and a relationship can be built and strengthened.

However, too often pro-lifers get so wrapped up in their candidate that if he/she loses (especially in a primary) to another pro-life candidate, the pro-life grass-roots person becomes like the child who lost a game -- he takes his marbles and goes home, he doesn’t support the pro-life candidate who won or work to get others to vote for the pro-life candidate. Pro-life candidates need the active support of all pro-lifers and, all too often, without that full support, a pro-abortion candidate wins.

-2- Believe that your candidate is the only real Pro-Life candidate in the race and bash other Pro-Life candidates

In a primary where there are several pro-life candidates, pro-lifers will select the candidate they think is best. Then, unfortunately, all too often they will help to attack other pro-life candidates as not being “pro-life enough.” If another candidate has a 20 year pro-life voting record, they pick out the one or two votes that he didn’t vote right on and attack him as not being really pro-life.

By doing this, the pro-lifer demoralizes other pro-lifers, and enthusiasm for the pro-life candidate who does win the primary is weakened. Ihe pro-abortion opponent will, of course, use this. Because some pro-lifers have attacked the pro-life candidate, the pro-abortion candidate will use that in pro-life circles to hold down support for the pro-life caiididate. At the same time, the pro-abortion candidate is going to other voters, attacking the pro-life candidate as a radical pro-life extremist.

-3- Support a really nice candidate who is Pro-Life but has no chance of winning

The viability of a candidate must be considered when we decide who to vote for. There are some wonderful pro-lifers, some even active in our chapters, who want to run for office. They should be given the chance to do so, but if it is apparent they can’t win, if they are running to make a statement or to get some publicity for the pro-life movement (or themselves), they need to be encouraged to step aside for a candidate who may not be as eloquent but who can actually win and take action to protect unborn children.

-4- Expect the candidate to sound like a Right to Life chapter chairman

People who are not directly involved in the pro—life movement are not going to be as articulate or well-versed on all the pro-life issues. They may not know about RU-486 or understand the Mexico City Policy. Unless there has been some prior discussion, some candidates may not realize that there are certain “code words” that are interpreted differently by pro-life voters. Sometimes a truly pro-life candidate can be tripped up by the media, confused, ill-informed, misquoted, or quoted out of context. Give him a chance to explain why he said what he did.

Many candidates are against abortion because they have a religious background that tells them abortion is wrong, or they have a natural instinct that wants to protect the babies. They will do what’s right when they’re elected, but that doesn’t mean they will be comfortable or eloquent talking about the killing of unborn babies. Some of our strongest pro-life elected officials whose actions have helped to save hundreds of thousands of unborn babies lives are not articulate on pro-life issues. Remember, words are nice; action is always much better.

-5- Expect the candidate to make abortion the top issue in the campaign

A Voter Research and Survey exit poll in 1992 found that 13% of the voters said abortion was a top issue in deciding who to vote for. In 1996, a Wirthlin Worldwide poll found that 12% of the voters said abortion was a top issue for them. That can does make a difference in the outcome of an election, but it also means that 87% to 88% of the voters had other issues that were more important to them. In order to win, a candidate has to focus on several issues that appeal to a variety of voters. In some races, making abortion an issue will help the candidate, but in some parts of the country, the pro-life candidate must be careful what he says and how he says it. In most areas the institutional news media is a powerful tool for the pro-abortion candidate. Sometimes, to expect the candidate to make abortion the top issue in the campaign can be a sure way to lose.

-6- Vote for a third party candidate who has no chance of winning

When a general election is between a pro-life candidate and a pro-abortion candidate from established parties, there will be times when a third party candidate will get into the race, claiming to be the "real" pro-lifer. He will attack the pro-life candidate and get other pro-lifers to jump on board. This is a sure strategy to elect the pro-abortion candidate. Pro-lifers who support the third party candidate, to the detriment of the pro-life candidate who could win, may feel like they have not compromised their principles ... but if they succeed in helping elect a candidate who will always vote to allow the killing of unborn babies to continue, they have compromised away something far more important ... children's lives.

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Posted 10 Mar 2000.

Copyright 2000 by National Right to Life.
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