Do Democrats risk losing their narrative by turning convention into ‘Abortion-palooza’?

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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This morning, I wrote that, if last night is any indication, the Democrats are in danger of turning off mainstream Americans during their national convention.

It turns out, I wasn’t the only one to notice this potential problem.

This morning, MSNBC’s First Read reports,

In retrospect, perhaps the most surprising part of last night was that it had more talk about abortion rights than in any Democratic convention since 1992, the first of many self-described “Year of the Woman” campaign years. Not only did the first lady talk about the importance of women “making our own choices about our bodies and our health care,” NARAL President Nancy Keenan gave a fiery speech about abortion rights. Four years ago, it seemed the Democratic Party was going out of its way to feature pro-life officeholders, like Tim Kaine or Bob Casey Jr., as a way to set a different tone on culture. Fast forward four years later and it’s clear Democrats and the Obama campaign were sending the not-so-subtle message that they believe the secret formula to capitalizing on the gender gap: talk about women’s rights and women’s choices. But that strategy also carries the potential risk of alienating Democratic voters who might oppose abortion rights. This strategy may work in the Nevadas, Colorados and Virginias but in the heavier Catholic states, like Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio?

(Emphasis mine.)

Not every one agrees. Some observers think this is overwrought — that times have changed.

“We live in a moment when I think on issues middle America is far closer to the [Democrats] than in say the 80s,” says author and pundit Peter Beinart. “If Republicans win, it will be because people give up on Obama on the economy, not because he’s perceived as too far left, which he’s really not.”

“In many ways he’s to the right of Nixon,” Beinart added.

“I didn’t see any evidence of a ‘war on religion,’ says Peter Slutsky, a former Democratic operative who was in the hall last night. “In fact, there was a lot of talk about faith and faith politics, especially as it pertains to things like access to health care and poverty, education and the like.”

But some Republican strategists seem to be licking their chops at the apparent overreach on social issues. “The Democrats are losing the narrative,” says conservative public relations executive Greg Mueller. “What was supposed to be an evening dedicated to the so-called ‘war on women’ was overtaken by the Democrats new ‘war on religion,” he said.

Mueller argues this was evident by the Democrats’ “taking God and Jerusalem out of their platform — all on the day the national debt hit $16 trillion.”

Matt K. Lewis