Candidates in competitive races often moderate positions they took to win their party primaries and turn toward broadly popular issues for the general electorate. This year, Republican candidates in tight races appear to be pivoting away from the de facto leader of their party, former President Donald Trump, and one of the animating issues of the conservative movement, abortion.
"At least nine Republican congressional candidates have scrubbed or amended references to Trump or abortion from their online profiles in recent months, distancing themselves from divisive subjects that some GOP strategists say are two of the biggest liabilities for the party ahead of the post-Labor Day sprint to Election Day," The Washington Post reports. "Democrats have been hammering GOP candidates on abortion since the fall of Roe v. Wade," Politico adds, leaving "some Republicans scrambling to try to figure out how to soften the blow."
In Arizona, GOP Senate nominee Blake Masters' website no longer declares his support for a "federal personhood law" or calls him "100 percent pro-life," and gone is the false claim that "Trump would be sitting in the Oval Office" if "we had had a free and fair election." Masters updates his own website and views his policy section as a "living document," not a fixed record, a person close to Masters tells CNN.
Virginia GOP congressional hopeful Yesli Vega has removed "Trump appointee" from her Twitter bio, North Carolina GOP congressional candidate Bo Hines is no longer "100 percent pro-life" or "100 percent pro-Trump" on his campaign site, and Colorado GOP congressional nominee Barbara Kirkmeyer scrubbed her support for the "Sanctity of Life" and all other abortion mentions from her website. In Michigan, state Sen. Tom Barrett (R), who is trying to unseat Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D), is not "a consistent pro-life legislator," not one who would "protect life from conception."
The lawmakers give various reason for the changes to their websites, if they gave any response at all, but GOP strategists say Republicans lose by litigating abortion and win by making the midterms a referendum on President Biden's administration. Many swing-district Democrats, conversely, view abortion rights and battling Trump election conspiracies as electoral winners. You can read more examples at The Washington Post, Politico, and CNN.