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The contentious Ohio GOP Senate primary veered into the incendiary issue of abortion this week, with candidate J.D. Vance’s campaign going after opponent Mike Gibbons as “squishy” on abortion and Gibbons’ team calling Vance a “shapeshifter.”
Vance launched the first salvo at Gibbons Thursday, referring to an AP story from Gibbons’ last Senate run in 2017 about the investment banker “scrambl[ing] to clarify his abortion stance.”
“When Mike Gibbons, they asked him whether he was pro-life, he said no, I wouldn’t call myself pro-life, I think that ultimately it should go to the woman’s choice,” Vance said in a town hall Thursday. “That is the language of pro-abortion. He said he’s not pro-life, he’s pro-people. Ladies and gentlemen, pro-life is pro-people, that’s the whole point of our position there. If you’re not willing to stand up for the unborn, you don’t deserve to be a conservative senator in this state.”
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The video, provided to Fox News by the Vance campaign, was first published by the Daily Caller.
Gibbons’ spokesperson Samantha Cotten responded in a tweet, saying that Vance “is lying and he knows it.”
“This spin was debunked in the 2018 cycle,” Cotten added in a separate statement to Fox News. “This attack is a desperate attempt by J.D. Vance to deflect the narrative away from his sinking campaign and his past comments attacking President Trump.”
“J.D. Vance is a shapeshifter,” Cotten added.
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The AP story in question, which was released soon after Gibbons started his first-ever run for elected office, says Gibbons told the outlet “he opposes abortion and supports Planned Parenthood de-funding and Supreme Court justices who favor overturning Roe v. Wade.”
It followed a previous interview in which the AP said it “described Gibbons as ‘a ‘pro-people’ person who’s not dogmatic’ on social issues.
“Gibbons, who’s Catholic, initially told AP he personally opposes abortion but, politically, he’s ‘not a woman’ so wouldn’t choose for them. He said he wasn’t ‘pro-choice,’ though, but ‘pro-people.’” the AP story said.
Cotten said the story was “a misquote from last cycle.”
Vance also said Thursday that not being ardently pro-life “indicates your character is weak and you don’t have the fortitude to actually serve the interests of our voters. So I’m proud to be 100% pro-life.”
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“Using pro-abortion language and being squishy on the issue tells conservatives who you really are,” a Vance campaign spokesman told Fox News. “Trying to walk it back after you realize it’s a political weakness makes you a coward. J.D. is proud to be 100 percent pro-life and will fight to end abortion in America.”
“Mike Gibbons is 100% pro-life,” Cotten told Fox News.
Abortion is a particularly salient issue this election cycle as the Supreme Court considers a Mississippi case that could lead to Roe v. Wade being overturned. Some Democrats in Congress have pushed to codify Roe in case the case is overturned, but with the Senate split 50-50 Democrats don’t have the votes to overcome a filibuster on such a bill.
The GOP primary is for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
Fox News Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.
Source URL: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/hot-button-abortion-issue-latest-battleground-in-contentious-ohio-senate-race-as-vance-gibbons-trade-barbs