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Senate GOP campaign arm urges candidates to portray Democrats as well outside 'mainstream' on abortion

The National Republican Senatorial Committee cites polling by a GOP firm showing “restricting late term abortions” is a better message than prohibiting abortions altogether.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., walks on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, May 4, 2022, in Washington.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., at Capitol Hill, on May 4, 2022.Mariam Zuhaib / AP

The GOP's Senate campaign arm is responding to a bombshell Supreme Court leak on the likely demise of Roe v. Wade by circulating new polling data and messaging on abortion for Republican candidates, according to documents obtained by NBC News.

Polling conducted by On Message Inc., a GOP strategy firm with long ties to Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, appears to show voter support for messaging focused on “restricting late term abortions” rather than prohibiting abortions altogether.

The documents, which cite responses to focus group questionnaires, also direct GOP candidates to be a “compassionate, consensus builder” when talking about abortion, while targeting Democrats for “extremist views” and having an “obsession” with abortion rights.

“Democrats won’t address issues harming the country, they would rather promote abortion,” one talking point on the deck states.

The documents urge candidates to drive home points based on its focus group findings, that Republicans “will not take away contraception” or “women’s health care” and would prioritize the mothers’ health.

The deck entitled “Winning the Fight for Life,” comes after the NRSC distributed talking points in a three-page memo, first reported by Axios, on how Republicans could best capitalize on their messaging surrounding the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion.

In the new documents, On Message indicated that its polling found broad-based support for Mississippi's ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, the case before the Supreme Court that poses a direct challenge to the landmark 1973 decision that guaranteed abortion rights nationwide.

In an emailed statement Wednesday, Scott told NBC News the NRSC has been polling and working with focus groups for “the last few months,” in an effort to bolster Republican candidates.

“No matter what the Supreme Court decides, what’s clear is that the Democrat Party is well outside the mainstream on the issue of abortion,” Scott said.

The GOP polling, however, appears to contrast with recent findings by a Washington Post/ABC poll, published Tuesday, that showed 58 percent of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or a majority of cases, with 54 percent saying the Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade. Twenty-eight percent said it should be overturned.