Last night, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker met with a few dozen social conservative leaders in Washington, including representatives of the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and the National Organization for Marriage, attempting to win them to his side if he decides to run for president.
According to people who attended the meeting, one subject that came up was a TV ad Walker ran last year in which he promoted his efforts to chip away at abortion access in his state, which, he said, would still leave “the final decision to a woman and her doctor.”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, head of the Susan B. Anthony List, told the Weekly Standard that Walker explained to her that in the ad he was “using the language of the other side to support our own position” and that people who said he was trying to paint himself as more pro-choice than he was were quoting him “out of context”:
Walker’s pro-life credentials have been questioned by one Republican rival because of a 2014 Walker TV ad in which the governor defended laws regulating abortion as “legislation to increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options. The bill leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor.”
According to Dannenfelser, Walker brought up the ad during Tuesday’s meeting and “explained his perspective on that — that using the language of the other side to support our own position is a good thing, but you can only do it if people aren’t trying to call you out and quoting you out of context. And I actually liked the way he formulated this in general.”
In an interview with the Daily Beast, Dannenfelser said that it’s just this sort of evasiveness on abortion rights that she’d like to see from other anti-choice GOP candidates:
Dannenfelser said Walker brought up his 2014 abortion ad before being asked.
“He felt very quoted out of context, very misunderstood,” she said. “He said there was a snippet of the ad used that did not convey the full meaning, and his communication was using the other side’s language but with the idea of forging common ground on ultrasound, because he’s a true believer on that.”
Walker signed legislation in 2013 requiring both that women seeking abortions get ultrasounds first and that the doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Dannenfelser said he defended his use of the phrase “leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor” as a way of co-opting pro-choice rhetoric for the pro-life cause.
“To the extent that we use the other side’s rhetoric to undermine their positions, we’re better off,” Dannenfelser added.
She said she was impressed with Walker’s way of talking about abortion.
“It’s the whole style of communication and content of communication that you want to see moving into a presidential cycle that will make it different from 2012,” she said.
Here’s Walker’s “Decision” ad: