28 August 2005

Harris stumbles on abortion issue

In an act of desperation, Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R-Sarasota) has decided to debate abortion in her attempt to unseat Democratic Senator Bill Nelson. Unfortunately for her, Harris has taken an extreme position that places her well outside the mainstream of Florida's voters, and she has flip-flopped as compared to prior statements.

Senator Bill Nelson is one of the United States Senate's true moderate politicians. He isn't with the conservatives, and he isn't with the liberals. He is truly camped out in the middle, along with most of Florida and the nation. Nelson's GOP opponent, Katherine Harris, used to be a centrist, but now as the Republican base becomes narrower and more extreme, Harris has been forced to the extreme right.

Running too far to the right or to the left is a losing strategy in Florida, a state famous for its centrist views. Harris may feel that she must move to the far right in order to shore up support among reliable GOP voters, but as a result, she may be torpedoing herself among swing voters before the campaign even begins.

Harris now states that she is against abortion in all cases, even if the failure to terminate a pregnancy results in the death of the mother. This position is so far to the extreme that according to a recent poll, only 16.1% share her view on this issue [PDF - 368 KB]. Bill Nelson, on the other hand, shares the values of the overwhelming majority of Americans and Floridians when it comes to abortion rights. Nelson opposes government control over the reproductive rights of women, but he favors parental notification for minors obtaining abortions and he favors a ban on late-term abortions. According to a study by the centrist political group, The Third Way, Nelson's position is shared by 62.8% of the nation's voters [PDF - 368 KB].

The fact that Harris is so far outside the mainstream on the issue of abortion is bad enough, but what makes it worse is that she has taken a 180 degree turn on the matter. In 1994 when she first ran for the Florida Senate, Harris was a pro-abortion candidate. That year, pro-life groups attempted to claim Harris as one of their candidates, but she fought them over the issue. Harris opposed the pro-life groups, claiming that she was pro-choice.

According to Barbara Zdravecky, executive director of Planned Parenthood in Sarasota County, Harris met with her prior to the 1994 election and voiced her support for abortion rights. Now according to Zdravecky, "Definitely, she's (Harris) changed."

Katherine Harris is in a heap of trouble. Polls show her falling far behind Senator Nelson, and she has been the subject of countless attacks by members of her own party. (Democrats have largely ignored her.) Now as she tries to jump start her campaign, she chooses a losing issue. Not only does she choose a minority view (opposing abortion even if necessary to save the life of the mother), but she flip-flops from her prior statements.

No one will ever know for sure what Katherine Harris believes. Is she pro-abortion, like she was in 1994, or is she anti-abortion, like she says she is today?

Harris apparently only believes in getting elected to higher office, and she is obviously willing to say whatever it takes to get there.


Anonymous tdog said...

I hope the Dems jump all over this. This is unbelievable. Harris's flip flopping only reinforces the image that she is a career politician who will do anything to get elected, whether it be changing positions or ignoring election law.

Good stuff. Let's just hope Nelson beats the hell out of her with this.

1:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In case you missed the post on the Florida Politics Blog:

Katherine to the left for ’94 State Senate:

From a Tampa Tribune Article, by Rick Barry, October 14, 1994, entitled “Candidates verbally spar in face-off”

“Harris, in a district that is conservative but overwhelmingly favors abortion rights, stood by her pledge to protect those rights: ‘I have never veered during the campaign. ... As a legislator, I will not, I cannot make that decision for another person.’”.

From a St. Pete Times Article by Adam Smith, July 19, 1998 entitled “Candidates' abortion stances no longer black and white”

"Four years ago, state Senate candidate Katherine Harris succinctly summed up her position on abortion.
'I would never choose to have an abortion, but I fully support the right of every woman to make that choice for herself,'' the Sarasota Republican, now a candidate for secretary of state, wrote in a letter to voters."

Katherine to the Right for the ’98 Secretary of State GOP Primary:

From a questionnaire in a Miami Herald article, August 9, 1998, by Tyler Bridges entitled “GOP RIVALS VULNERABLE TO ATTACK SECRETARY OF STATE PRIMARY EXPECTED TO TURN PERSONAL”


Katherine to the Center for the ’98 Secretary of State General Election:

From a St. Pete Times Article, October 20, 1998, by Peter Wallsten, entitled “Outgoing secretary of state aims to push GOP to center”

“Neither Harris' nor Mortham's stances on abortion have been clear-cut over the years. Both have claimed at times to support a woman's right to choose while supporting restrictions, such as a ban on so-called partial-birth abortions, parental notice legislation, even a proposed ""Choose Life'' license plate.”

From a Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, by the Associated Press, October 21, 1998 entitled, “MORTHAM MOVES TO CLIP GOP'S RIGHT WING”

“Harris has not stated a clear position on abortion.”

Katherine on all sides of the issue for the ‘02 Congressional:

From a Bradenton Herald article, October 20, 2002 by Christopher Cole, entitled “CONGRESS HOPEFULS DIFFER IN MANY WAYS”


Harris considers herself 'more socially moderate.' Still, she said, 'I've always said I'm personally pro-life.'
She would vote to outlaw intact dilatation and extraction, a medical procedure often called 'partial-birth abortion' by its opponents. 'I think it is a heinous, heinous act.' She favors parental consent, with exceptions in some cases.

Overall, Harris refuses to be pigeonholed on the abortion issue or how she would vote on any legislation. 'It just depends on what the bill says,' Harris said. 'It's not a litmus test issue for me. I would have to look at the context.'

Katherine to the Right for the ’06 U.S. Senate:

From a Lakeland Ledger article, August 28, 2005, By Jeremy Wallace entitled, Harris' Stance Is Against Abortion

"'I have never wavered,' Harris said."

8:36:00 PM  
Blogger LiberalPride said...

Why does Katherine Harris HATE American mothers so much????

Well, it's pretty obvious, isn't it?

Abortion is never allowable, according to these extremist religious fanatics, even if an abortion would save a mother's life. Thus, if performing an abortion saves a mother's life, then she will survive to attempt to have children in the future.

But, nooooo, the extremist are saying that she should die, die, die.

So, why do these fanatics like Katherine Harris HATE American mothers so much?

11:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Mary O'Grady said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa. Those last two comments are useless ad hominem attacks. Comments like that besmirch the commentator far more than the target of the comments. Katherine Harris has done terrible, possibly criminal things, in her political career. I like the comments focused on her varying and hypocritical statements about abortion. Let Katherine Harris make herself look bad. Don't make yourself look bad by resorting to ad hominem attacks.

7:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give 'da Man what he wants and maybe you, too, can be elected to the US Senate.

10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Kathrine Harris is unbelivable from fixing the election in 2000 to disenfranchise black voters to being extremely anti-choice with each opputunity she makes one giant leap to shame!

11:20:00 AM  
Anonymous ccx said...

i like ad hominem attacks. do they add relevance to the debate?

hmmm... in this case, facts are facts. did you see little kathy riding that horsey? besides, she's a face painted idiot. we want reasonable people to be elected, these assholes have real power over our lives.

bill nelson, good, honest, decent citizen who judiciously tries to do the peoples work.

kathleen harris, face painted whore, and shill for the GOP, who has already screwed the nation big time. WHORE.

11:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only willing to say anthing to get elected to higher office, but willing to do anything.

12:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the ad hominem attacks:

If you're trying to persuade anyone that they shouldn't vote for Katherine Harris, you've failed (reasons are always good for this kind of thing). If you're trying to persuade anyone that she is in fact a prostitute, you've failed there too (a photo, or some other type of evidence, is usually good for that kind of thing).

If you're simply promoting the continued degradation of political discourse -- as Rush, Bill and Sean, and Ann do daily -- because you like the way you sound making snarky comments, you're doing an ok job, but those folks on the right are better at it than you. Keep practicing. Asshole.

12:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those are terrific catches of Katie's flip-floppin-sychophantisizing up thread!!!

everyone - please help get them out there!

But, personally, I'm hoping she is the one to go against Nelson - she'll make the RepThugs look like maroons.

12:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To see this woman in action when the cameras are on is torture. To see her in action when the cameras are off is surreal and comedic. One moment she is treacly sweet and solicitous and the next she is grasping for words and setting up her next attention getting device. One moment she is warm and cheerful the next she is crypt cold and distant. She has no real depth beyond the sound bite and the pat phraseology of the current junta. She is oily, slick. She would be much better employed as a multilevel executive for some esoteric makeup line. Her apologist down line is no better. I am going to have go wipe my hands on a shop rag just from thinking about it.

1:06:00 PM  
Anonymous J. said...

"No one will ever know for sure what Katherine Harris believes. Is she pro-abortion, like she was in 1994, or is she anti-abortion, like she says she is today?"

I really have to take issue with the phrase "pro-abortion." No one is "pro-abortion." No one has ever said, "abortion is a good thing, and every woman should have one."

Folks who are pro-choice recognize that while abortion is not a great solution to the problem of unwanted pregnancies, it is a solution...and that it is impossible for us to judge the need for it in someone else's life - we can only make our own choices.

3:05:00 PM  
Blogger james H said...

It's fine to support Katherine Harris or to oppose her. I will ask however that we keep the comments on this blog PG-13. Anything that is deemed risque or profane will be removed.



7:14:00 PM  
Blogger RightDemocrat said...

I agree that most Floridians do not favor a total ban on abortion and Harris is somewhat out of step with public opinion in that regard. Still, it is sometimes intensity rather than majority opinion that counts. I think that there are more hard-line pro-life voters in Florida than pro-choice electors. Harris will not play up her hard-line pro-life stance except with evangelical and conservative Catholic voters.

If Nelson had voted for the ban on late term abortions, I think he would be be in a much stronger position. Nelson probably would have liked to have voted for the partial birth ban since he is conservative Christian in terms of religious beliefs and a moderate by temperament, but was no doubt afraid of angering the South Florida liberal base. I guarantee you that Harris will use the late term abortion issue and it will be very hard to defend Nelson's position in places like North Florida.

10:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're on to something, but I think the late-term abortion ban vote is easy to define. It is important, however, for Nelson to come out and attack first in order to define himself and also define Harris.

For instance, Nelson never voted against a ban on late-term abortions. He voted against a bill that would allow a mother to become sterile or die simply because there were complications late in her pregnancy. Nelson voted for the real late-term abortion ban, which prohibits the practice when the mother's life and health is not threatened.

Harris on the other hand has taken the extreme position that if you're going to have a dead fetus on the table, well you better have a dead mother too. For the sake of opposing abortion, Harris is willing to allow innocent women, who likely acted responsibly, to also die.

It's important that Nelson doesn't get pigeonholed into this one like Kerry did with the $87 billion. He needs to throw down the gauntlet and define the issue.

Nelson should say, There were two bills, one banned late-term abortions, and I voted for it. There was another bill that would allow mothers to die or become sterile because they could no longer terminate their pregnancy before a government-mandated deadline. I voted against that one, because I don't believe the government should support the unnecessary death of innocent women.

Then let Harris explain how the bill she supported wouldn't cause innocent women to become sterile or die.

This could be a winning issue, if played this way, by further alienating the swing moderate voters who have been voting GOP in recent years.

1:29:00 AM  
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7:46:00 PM  

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