Local Republican candidates say national social-issue discussions about abortion and pregnancy dominating political news this week should not be the deciding issues in their races.
With the Republican National Convention beginning next week in Tampa, Republicans plan to adopt a platform that opposes abortion in all cases -- with no explicit exception for cases of rape or incest. The convention will also draw attention to proposals by Wisconsin's U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential designee, for massive federal budget cuts and reinventions of Medicare and Medicaid.
Washington's Republican gubernatorial candidate, Rob McKenna, who will not attend the convention, says his position on abortion is the same one he's had since he ran for the Metropolitan King County Council in the 1990s. While he personally opposes abortion, he said, "I support a woman's right to choose under the laws in this state."
In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, McKenna was repeatedly pressed on whether voters might be turned off by conservative positions on abortion and other issues in the national GOP platform, along with the selection of Ryan and the widely condemned comments on rape by U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri.
U.S. Senate candidate Michael Baumgartner, the Republican challenging Sen. Maria Cantwell, said his views on abortion are closely aligned with the national party. He opposes abortion, with virtually no exceptions.
"I think as a guiding principle, it's something I'm comfortable with personally," he said, referring to the proposed platform.
In the 1st Congressional District contest, Republican John Koster said he, too, is comfortable with language regarding abortion in the proposed platform.
"That's pretty much the position I've taken," he said. Even in the case of rape or incest, he would "err on the side of preserving life."
McKenna said Democrats are trying to "nationalize" the governor's race, because "they can't win on their record" of running the state over the past 28 years.
But Democrats clearly see an opportunity in linking McKenna to the national GOP. Sterling Clifford, communications director for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee, said in an email: "In the last four weeks, Rob McKenna has shared a stage with (New Jersey Gov.) Chris Christie, (Louisiana Gov.) Bobby Jindal and (Virginia Gov.) Bob McDonnell. He's gone to a (Republican Governors Association) retreat with Karl Rove, and he's hailed Paul Ryan's perspective on the federal budget. Rob McKenna has embraced the national Republican Party, its failed leaders and its failed ideas."
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