NRCC Chair Richard Hudson has a message for GOP House candidates running in tough seats: “You need to tell the voters your position” on abortion.
In the 2022 cycle, Democrats spent heavily to define Republicans as extreme on abortion rights following the reversal of Roe v. Wade. That strategy is largely credited with blunting the predicted “red wave” and delivering a smaller-than-expected Republican House majority.
Hudson, who’s helming the House GOP campaign arm for the first cycle, thinks Republicans need to be more aggressive in combating Democratic abortion attacks.
“[Candidates] need to articulate their position to the voters, because the voters think the Republican position is like, ‘We’ll throw you in jail if you get an abortion,’” Hudson said.
It’s a frank acknowledgment from the House GOP campaign leader that the party has been outmaneuvered on abortion messaging. After the Dobbs decision in 2022, the GOP message was muddled between calling for state restrictions versus new federal action curtailing abortion.
Hudson added he wasn’t instructing candidates what their stance on abortion should be but claimed that any GOP stance was closer to voters than what Democrats believed.
“Republicans don’t have a policy problem. We have a branding problem,” Hudson said. “We need to point out that the Democrat position is abortion for any reason, up until the moment of birth, paid for by taxpayers. That’s extreme.”
Democrats contest this framing and argue they are simply seeking to codify Roe into law. The party message is that decisions on abortions are best left to women and their doctors, not politicians.
Heading into the 2024 election, Hudson argued the issues most important to voters — the economy, crime and immigration — favored Republicans.
“If you’re losing on every issue that the voters care about, and you have no ideas on how to fix it, I would also want to change the subject to something else,” Hudson said of Democrats.
Overall picture: Hudson predicted House Republicans would grow their majority in 2024. Hudson cited President Joe Biden’s unpopularity, voter dissatisfaction with the state of the country and the border, key Democratic retirements in tough seats and GOP recruitment as reasons for his optimism.
Hudson also said the NRCC has identified 37 pickup opportunities in seats currently represented by Democrats.
ICYMI: Hudson opened up on his lack of confidence in J.R. Majewski in a critical Ohio swing seat, as we reported in our PM edition.
— Max Cohen