Tales from the Trail

This election, abortion rights activists are looking for just a few good women

This fall, there is going to be a relatively small group of women voters who may be very, very sick of hearing from NARAL Pro-Choice America by Election Day on Nov. 6.

Like most of those involved in politics this election year, the abortion rights advocacy group says that women will determine the outcome of the contest on Nov. 6 between Democratic President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

But unlike most, the group has identified, by name and address, the thousands of women across the country that it thinks might make the difference – and it plans to go after their votes,  and in a big way, but in small numbers – in many cases as few as 1,000 or 2,000 in an individual county.

Using micro-targeting tools, NARAL narrowed this pool to a select group of 338,020 women, living not just in nine battleground states, but in 25 specific counties within those states. In Ohio, for example, it has identified 43,067 women in Cuyahoga County, 43,616 in Franklin County and 20,432 in Hamilton County. In Wisconsin, it is looking at 15,855 in Milwaukee County, 1,993 in Racine County and just 993 in Kenosha County.

The group has identified those women as “pro-choice Obama defectors,” or women who voted for the Democrat in 2008 and support abortion rights, but who now might be wavering or planning to stay home on Election Day.

Why Romney’s parents are buried in Brighton, Michigan

Kalamazoo, Michigan – Sometimes one story leads to another for Mitt Romney.

At Western Michigan University, the Republican presidential candidate told a packed house his parents, George and Lenore Romney, had campaigned in the same conference room when George ran for Michigan governor and Lenore ran for a U.S. Senate seat decades ago.

This reminded him that his campaign bus had taken him past Brighton, Michigan, where his parents are buried, on the way to Kalamazoo.

from FaithWorld:

Stupak now target of all sides in abortion debate

Up until a few days ago Bart Stupak, an unassuming Democratic congressman from Michigan, was a hero among American activists opposed to abortion rights (who refer to themselves as "pro-life"). This was because Stupak had managed to insert strong language in the House of Representatives version of the healthcare bill aimed at preventing any federal tax  funds from being used for abortion.

What a difference a weekend makes. President Barack Obama clinched the votes he needed to win passage for his healthcare overhaul on Sunday by winning over a handful of Democratic abortion rights opponents, led by Stupak, with the pledge of an executive order affirming restrictions on the use of federal funds for the procedure.

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Stupak was suddenly a traitor to the cause, with barbs like "Judas" thrown his way on the blogosphere. Randy Neugebauer, a Republican congressman from Texas,  reportedly yelled "Baby killer!," while Stupak explained why he was finally going to support the bill. Neugebauer was later quoted as saying he was referring to the bill and not Stupak himself, but that is the kind of emotional language one often hears in the shouting matches on this issue.

from FaithWorld:

Karl Rove says did not ask for gay marriage fight

Karl Rove, the political operative widely credited with the electoral successes of former U.S. President George W. Bush, says in his new book that he did not choose gay marriage as a wedge issue but that circumstances thrust it his way.

Conventional wisdom, at least in some circles, has it that Rove masterminded gay marriage as an issue in the 2004 White House race  in a bid to get conservative evangelicals -- a key base for the Republican Party, especially during the Bush years -- to the polls. There were ballot initiatives in about a  dozen states that year to ban gay marriage (or, supporters of such measures would argue, to defend traditional marriage).  Many political commentators have said such tactics are in keeping with the "Rovian" strategy of ginning up the base to clinch narrow victories.

USA-POLITICS/ROVE

Rove, in "Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight,"  says the ballot initiatives made little difference to the outcome that year and that they were not his idea anyway.

Has abortion role been overblown in U.S. healthcare debate?

A new poll by the Pew Research Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggests that concern about federal funding for abortion is very low on the list of factors driving opposition to President Barack Obama’s effort to overhaul America’s healthcare system.

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The results of the poll, released on Thursday, show that just 3 percent of healthcare opponents cited abortion funding as their main reason for opposing congressional healthcare proposals.

The biggest reasons, cited by 27 percent of respondents to an open-ended question about their opposition, were that the overhaul would be too expensive and lead to higher deficits and taxes. Another 27 percent said they did not want government involvement in healthcare.

Abortion issue hard to avoid in healthcare debate

Like it or not, the healthcare debate has turned into a fracas over abortion rights.

pelosifingerU.S. House Democratic leaders had hoped to avoid just that in their push to expand healthcare coverage and reform the health insurance market.

But getting the votes to pass the historic legislation on Saturday boiled down to settling a dispute between pro-choice and pro-life forces over abortion.

The First Draft: Obama and the Pope

POPE-ENCYCLICAL/President Barack Obama heads to Africa on Friday on the final stop of a weeklong trip that included visits to Russia and Italy, but before leaving Rome he will visit with Pope Benedict.

Obama has had an uneasy relationship with some Roman Catholics because of his support for abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research, which the church opposes.

He faced protesters when he gave a graduation speech at Notre Dame University, although his call for a “fair-minded” discussion on abortion earned several standing ovations.

The First Draft: End of an era for GM

AUTOS/Even though it was expected, it was still a jolt: GM declared bankruptcy this morning, the third-largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history and the biggest ever in U.S. manufacturing.

Unthinkable a decade ago, now General Motors is yet another casualty of the cratered U.S. economy, with taxpayers putting up $30 billion for a 60 percent stake in the company. The GM filing followed just hours after a bankruptcy judge approved the sale of virtually all of automaker Chrysler’s assets to a group led by Italy’s Fiat SpA.

Within minutes of the filing, the headlines were rocketing around the Web:
The Washington Post: “Filing Marks the End of Financial Independence for Industrial Icon”
The New York Times: “A Risky Bet to Save an Icon of American Capitalism”
The Drudge Report led its page with a photo of the GM logo under a U.S. flag, headlined: “Government Motors.”

from FaithWorld:

Gallup first: more Americans now “pro-life” than “pro-choice”

America may have a president and Congress that support abortion rights, but a new Gallup poll suggests that for the first time such a stance is not the majority view.

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Gallup said on Friday that a new poll, conducted May 7 to 10, found "51 percent of Americans calling themselves 'pro-life' on the issue of abortion and 42 percent 'pro-choice.' This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995."

"The new results, obtained from Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs survey, represent a significant shift from a year ago, when 50 percent were pro-choice and 44 percent pro-life. Prior to now, the highest percentage identifying as pro-life was 46 percent, in both August 2001 and May 2002."

Bristol Palin urges teens to abstain from sex

Nearly a year after becoming the most celebrated pregnant, unmarried teenager in the United States, Bristol Palin is launching off on a campaign to encourage teens NOT to have sex to avoid getting pregnant.USA-POLITICS/PALIN

After shying away from the spotlight since her mother Sarah — John McCain’s vice presidential running mate — announced that her then 17-year-old daughter was pregnant, Bristol did a series of interviews today to announce explain her plans.

“Regardless of what I did personally, I just think that abstinence is the only way that you can effectively, 100 percent foolproof way to prevent pregnancy,” she said on ABC’s “Good Morning America”, while avoiding a direct answer to a question about how she ended up expecting.