Biden, Democrats zero in on Trump role on abortion access

President Biden and Democrats are zeroing in on former President Trump’s role in restricting abortion access, using the anniversary of the Dobbs decision to target him on the issue.

“Today, our daughters know fewer rights than their grandmothers. This is a health care crisis, and we all know who to blame: Donald Trump,” Vice President Harris said at a campaign event in Maryland on Monday.

She squarely put the blame on Trump, saying he “intended” for the three Supreme Court justices he appointed to overturn Roe, calling it “premeditated.”

Separately, in a campaign video, Biden declared that “decades of progress” were “shattered just because the last guy got four years in the White House.”

The effort by Democrats to use abortion rights to their advantage is hardly a surprise or a new campaign tactic. The party has credited election wins in the last cycle to the Supreme Court energizing Democrats on the issue of abortion rights.

Trump also has doubled down on taking credit for the Supreme Court’s action, and the Biden campaign is telegraphing its intention to make the issue a point in this week’s first presidential debate between the candidates.

Trump said Saturday that “we did something that was amazing” in confirming conservative justices to the court to knock down the Roe v. Wade decision, which had stood for a half-century. But the former president has sought to provide a balanced message on abortion, a possible sign of the political danger of the issue to his campaign.

Trump has said he is opposed to a nationwide abortion ban, and after the Supreme Court upheld access to the abortion pill mifepristone earlier this month, Trump’s campaign said “the matter is settled.”

At the same time, Trump did win the confirmations of three justices who all voted to overturn Roe. Since their decision, a host of states has knocked down abortion rights, and it has become much more difficult for women in large swathes of the country to get an abortion.

Democrats including Biden and Harris have warned that Trump and the GOP could go further in a new term, by targeting birth control, in vitro fertilization, medication abortion or by pursuing a nationwide abortion ban.

“Let’s be clear: Donald Trump owns every single abortion ban and policy that’s ripped away essential reproductive health care from women across the country,” Rosemary Boeglin, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, said Monday.

Democrats think that the strategy to blame Trump by tying him to state-level bans is a smart way to communicate with voters on the issue.

“Trump will go down in history as the only president to roll back the clock and take away freedoms, and he brags about it at every turn. It’s imperative that Americans associate Trump with this legacy, and understand putting him back in the White House means they’re putting other rights at risk,” said Alexandra LaManna, a former Biden White House press aide on reproductive rights.

Public polling is largely on Democrats’ side when it comes to abortion access. About 6 in 10 Americans last month said they think abortion should be legal in most cases, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Additionally, a Fox News poll in March found 59 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal.

While Biden trails Trump in swing-state and national polls, Democrats believe they can energize their supporters with the messaging on abortion.

Still, polls also show Democrats have some work to do.

A New York Times/Siena College poll last month found that 1 in 5 voters in battleground states think that Biden, instead of Trump, is responsible for the end of Roe.

While Trump appointed the judges that made the decision, the change happened in 2022, when Biden was in the Oval Office.

To be sure, Biden and Harris have made every effort to covey that Trump is responsible.

“Let’s be real clear. There’s one person responsible for this nightmare. And he’s acknowledged and he brags about it. Donald Trump,” Biden said in April remarks condemning Florida’s six-week abortion ban.

Harris doubled down in remarks at the EMILY’s List national gala in May, saying Trump “handpicked three members of the United States Supreme Court because he intended for them to overturn Roe. And as he intended, they did.”

As Biden struggles to win voters over on other issues, such as inflation and the economy, Democratic strategists say the messaging push on abortion is the right strategy.

“They are doing the right thing to hold Trump responsible for an outcome that two-thirds of all voters disagree with,” said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist and donor.

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