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RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel: 2024 GOP candidates must tackle abortion 'head on'

McDaniel said many Republican candidates refused to talk about the issue during the 2022 midterm elections, in which the party fell short of gaining a majority in the Senate.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel in Simi Valley, Calif., on April 20, 2023.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel in Simi Valley, Calif., on April 20.David McNew / Getty Images

Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, said Sunday that Republicans running in the 2024 presidential election cycle must tackle the issue of abortion access “head-on," noting that many GOP candidates did not in the 2022 midterms

“Abortion was a big issue in key states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, and so the guidance we’re going to give to our candidates is, you have to address this head-on,” McDaniel said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday," referring to the midterms in which Republicans fell short of winning a majority in the Senate.

“The Democrats spent 360 million on this, and many of our candidates across the board refused to talk about it, thinking, ‘Oh we can just talk about the economy and ignore this big issue,’ and they can’t,” she said.

McDaniel urged Republicans to take a hardline stance against abortion access. “Put them on the defensive and articulate where you stand, and that’s going to be the critical message we have to get out before 2024,” she said.

Abortion access emerged as a key issue in the November elections after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a landmark decision that guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion, in June.

As the campaign for 2024 begins to heat up, Republican presidential contenders, who must consider a base that favors outlawing abortion and a majority of the nation that favors keeping it legal, are struggling with the issue.

GOP presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson said Sunday that he would sign a federal abortion ban if he were to be elected president, while noting that he supports exceptions for the health of the mother and in cases of rape and incest.

“I believe that’s where the American public is,” the former Arkansas governor said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I don’t think anything will come out of Congress without those exceptions. And I certainly would sign a pro-life bill, but I would expect those exceptions to be in place.”

Asked what he would do about abortion on the federal level in an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” Sunday, GOP candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, a biotech entrepreneur and conservative commentator, said: “I believe that abortion is a form of murder. Murder, though, is regulated by the states, not by the federal government. I believe in the Constitution.”

McDaniel also urged all candidates to participate in the GOP primary debates after former President Donald Trump recently hinted again that he would skip them. “I see that everybody is talking about the Republican Debates, but nobody got my approval, or the approval of the Trump Campaign, before announcing them,” Trump said in a post to his Truth Social platform last week.

“That’s his choice. And every candidate is going to make that calculation,” McDaniel said Sunday. “What I think the American people want to see is these candidates; they want to see what they’re articulating, and especially what is your plan to take us out of the misery of Joe Biden."

McDaniel said she believes “everybody should get on that debate stage.”

The RNC has scheduled two debates so far. The first debate is set to take place in Milwaukee in August. The second will take place at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, but a date has not yet been announced.