Bob Bernick’s notebook: Mia Love’s curious abortion gambit

In what was mostly an internal Republican fight during last Saturday’s state GOP convention, Rep. Mia Love took out after her Democratic opponent, Ben McAdams, over abortion.

It was rather an odd disconnect, considering all the other stuff that was going on that long, long day.

She said that McAdams voting record – presumably as a state senator – shows: “he supports unrestricted abortion.”

McAdams would no doubt dispute that characterization.

Love quoted her daughter as saying to her, “if we are OK killing babies then we’re pretty much good for nothing.”

But will Love, in the 4th Congressional District battle over this summer and fall, keep up the attack on McAdams on abortion?

Not known at this point.

However, while in years gone by abortion battles may have made some points for GOP candidates/incumbents in Utah, it doesn’t seem to be a case for 2018.


Because there really are not abortion battles to win much anymore – especially in the current national political climate.

What Utahns seem to care about, what anyone seems to be talking about these days, is Trump, Trump, Trump.

Now, I realize that what Love and her campaign manager Dave Hansen really don’t want to talk about is Trump.

The president is not greatly liked in Utah, even among Republicans – least liked in the 4th District.

Trump did win the state in 2016, but with a minority of the vote.

What is really dangerous about Trump, of course, is what he may do next.

And what may come out about his business, personal and political dealings up through the November general election?

If you stand next to Trump, you could be helped – like when he reduces the size of national monuments here – or you could be harmed – like when he does Lord-knows-what on Twitter or phone calls to “Fox and Friends.”

Saturday, Love also criticized McAdams as a supporter of Democratic House leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Of course, Pelosi is toxic in Utah – much like Hillary Clinton is.

But McAdams has an out here, just as former moderate Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson had: You say, over and over again, that if elected you will not vote for Pelosi to be the Democratic leader – or speaker, if the Democrats win control of the House in 2018.

You say you will fight for Utahns in the House, not for Democrats in the House.

Moderate Democratic U.S. House candidates/incumbents have been pounded over and over again over the abortion issue – with questionable success.

Both Love and McAdams are faithful Mormons – their church against abortion on demand.

But Utah Mormons have not been riled up over abortion for some time – there have not been any major federal court cases, people have been living with Roe v. Wade for 45 years.

And Donald Trump, who may say today he’s against abortion, is certainly no moral leader on this or any other subject.

With Trump as your party’s leader, it’s tough to claim any moral high ground.

One day you may be making some political points against your Democratic opponent, then something terrible comes out against Trump, and you are politically cut off at the knees.

Now, Saturday Love was speaking before red meat eating, archconservative Republican delegates. And she may have just been going after some cheering points and slaps on the back from her hardcore right.

She may say little about abortion for the rest of the campaign.

The late Democratic U.S. Rep. Wayne Owens had to fight some abortion battles in this state. And he never lost a U.S. House race (although he lost two Senate races and a governor’s race).

Owens kept his abortion stand simple: He was a faithful, card-carrying Mormon, and accepted his church’s teachings. But, as his church also taught, he obeyed the law of the land. And on abortion that was Roe v. Wade – thus, keep abortions safe, but few.

The 2017-18 women’s issues are not over abortion, but rather sexual assault and harassment – punishing powerful men who abuse women in a variety of ways, on the job and off.

Abortion doesn’t seem to be a winning strategy for Love this year against McAdams.

We’ll see if she keeps it up.